Ethical or Moral?

My oldest son informed me over Shabbat that he has a job on Monday. What is his job? The senior’s residence near the school is going to be short of eligible men for a minyan (quorum of 10 men) on Monday and he has been asked to help make up the ten. For money. That’s right. They plan on paying him 5 bucks for every time they need him.

He’s 14. He’s thrilled at any prospect to make money.

He is not the type of kid that needs to be paid to do a mitzvah. On the contrary. If they would have just asked him to show up for davening Monday morning he would have gone anyway. Recently for a whole week that there was a shiva in my building he davened shacharit and mincha there as part of the minyan out of the kindness of his heart.

So I guess my question is “is it ethical to pay someone to do a mitzvah?” Discuss.

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10 responses to “Ethical or Moral?

  1. Rabbyim used to reward (young) bochurs with a small drop of honey for every page they read. This is the 21st century version of the same.

  2. I would encourage him to drop the $5 in the tzedakah box on his way out of synagogue.

  3. I dont see why it is any problem. I wouldnt pay my kid to do the average mitzva, but sometimes, like in the situation you describe, you are asking someone to go out of the way to do a favor for you. Despite the fact that its a mitzva, he is doing you a favor, and troubling himself to some extent in the process.
    Also, paying him ensures he will take it with a sense of responsibility. if he was just doing a chessed, he might wake up and say he is not in the mood, and then they are out of a minyan. Now it is a job and he tells himself he has to do it.

  4. Lady Lock and Load

    We paid someone to say kaddish for an elderly aunt who had passed away. The guy gave the money to tzaddakah.

  5. i agree that it is no problem for him to be paid to commit to join this minyan. i would also have no problem allowing him to keep the money & i would not encourage him to put it in the pushka b/c nobody donates all of their earnings to tzedaka & it is a ‘job’ for him to commit to this & therefore he should be allowed to use the money however he sees fit. it would be admirable if he were to set aside a tenth of his earnings for tzedakah but since we are not living in the time of the Bais Hamikdash (Holy Temple) it is not the halachah. however, i would most likely encourage him to set aside 50 cents out of each $5 for tzedakah for chinuch (educational) purposes but i wouldn’t have a power struggle over it either…

  6. Giving a portion of the money for tzedakah and then letting him keep the rest seems like a good way to handle it. He *is* doing something out of his way to help people out. But given the context, maybe you can attach a larger lesson to it about giving a little extra back.

    Your son sounds like a really great kid.

  7. if you taught him ‘right’, no worries at all. if you taught him ‘anything other than right’, then this is ok too, since sometimes you do the right thing for the wrong reasons, but eventually you come to do it for the right reasons….

    giving tzedakah is great too – check out my favorites!

    keep up the good stuff!

  8. Never, ever, as a mother force a child to give well-earned money for tzdakah….

    I suppose you do it because those 5 $ do not look much to you. But for him it is an important motivation.

    It’s his money. Don’t tell him what to do with it (a part from the 50 cents maasser, this you might remind him…)

  9. How many people pay to say Kaddish for departed family members. I would think this is the same thing.

  10. It isn’t ethical and it isn’t unethical.
    The question is like asking “is it ethical/moral to pay someone to be a lawyer for you” – it is just a job.

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