Tuition and Our Modern-Day Sacrifice
There was a custom that when a child would reach the appropriate age, their cheder would begin to teach them Chumash starting with Parshas VaYikra. The Midrash Yalkut explains the reason behind the age-old practice of initiating children with the topic of korbanos. The Yalkut says that we teach that which is “pure” to those who are “pure.” Let the pure ones (children) begin to learn that which is pure itself (korbanos require a high level purity and holiness).
The Avnei Eizel adds that the reason we start our children’s education with sacrifices is a lesson to parents, as well. He says that in order to educate a child in Torah and mitzvos properly, parents must be ready to sacrifice and give up of themselves for their children’s chinuch. Whether it be through expensive tuitions, early-morning carpools, private tutoring, foregoing luxuries and delicacies, or simply clearing the house of child-inappropriate material. A parent’s main concern should be to fill their child’s years with Torah and kedusha no matter what the cost.
In the early years of the 20th century, in the city of Ostrov, Poland, there lived a young couple and their two little boys. The family lived in abject poverty. The family's only response to their plight was to emigrate to America in hope of finding sustenance. The father traveled ahead of the family in order to establish a parnassah and a home for his family to come to.
Matters did not work out as planned. World War I erupted and travel across the Atlantic became very difficult. It would be 10 years until the family would be reunited. In the meantime, the mother worked several hours a day in order to pay for the tuition of her two little boys.
As time went on, she found herself in a dilemma - one of the boys was exceptionally bright and was more advanced than the elementary school rebbe’s simple class. She knew that she had to find a private tutor for her boy, but where would she find the money to do so?
So each night, after her sons were tucked safely into bed, the woman would deliver cans of milk to villages on the outskirts of Ostrov. Although it was wartime and the roads were especially dangerous, nothing could deter her from making extra money for her son’s education.
After the war, the family emigrated to America. As the years passed, her young prodigy blossomed into an outstanding talmid chacham. He later became familiar to the Jewish world as a renowned Gadol HaDor in Jerusalem - Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg z”l.
The sacrifices we make for chinuch are our modern-day korbanos to Hashem. May we be able to maintain the purity and holiness of thought that sacrifices demand and may G-d accept them as the foundation for the greatness our children will achieve.