OPINIONS: The Gemara says that one may not receive a wage for teaching
Torah. There are several types of circumstances in which it is permitted to
receive a wage.
(a) Rebbi Yochanan rules that it is permitted to receive a wage for
teaching the "Pisuk Ta'amim" (the cantilational notes on the words in the
Chumash), since those notes are not mid'Oraisa. We see from here that one is
permitted to take wages for teaching Halachos or Mitzvos that are
mid'Rabanan. The HAGAHOS MAIMONI (Hilchos Talmud Torah 1, cited by the REMA
in YD 246:5) writes that it is therefore permitted to take wages for
teaching rabbinical enactments.
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 246:5) rules that nowadays, teachers may
receive salaries for teaching Torah for the abovementioned reasons.
(b) The Gemara says that one who teaches small children who need to be
watched may receive a wage for teaching them, since the salary is not being
paid for the teaching, but for the supervision. The Gemara assumes that
adults, and even young girls (who tend to be more mature and independent
than young boys) do not need to be watched. (See ROSH, who says that little
children have to be kept off the streets so that they will not cause damage
and become accustomed to doing bad things.) Obviously, in a place where
young girls and older children need to be supervised, their teacher may take
(c) The RAN and other Rishonim quote a Yerushalmi that says that one who
opts to teach Torah at the expense of working in a profession may receive
wages for the loss of work that he endures as a result of teaching. In such
a case, he is not taking money for the teaching, but for not working.
(d) TOSFOS in Bechoros (29a) and the ROSH say that one who has no other
source of income may receive a wage for teaching.
1. HAVLA'AH. The Gemara says that one who teaches Torah on Shabbos may not
receive a wage specifically for his work on Shabbos. If, however, he gets
paid for a week or for a month at a time, then he may be paid for all seven
days of the week of his teaching, since it is not evident that he is being
paid for his work done on Shabbos.
The example of Havla'ah mentioned in the Gemara is only when he is being
paid for an entire week or more. There is reason to say that only when
*most* of the weekly salary is for weekdays is it then considered
permissible Havla'ah. The Poskim say, however, that this is not necessary.
The MISHNAH BERURAH (OC 306:21) quotes the CHAYEI ADAM who permits Havla'ah
by being paid for work done on Shabbos together with a few hours of work
done on Erev Shabbos and on Motza'i Shabbos.
2. WAGES FOR DOING A MITZVAH ON SHABBOS. The Gemara says that it is
prohibited to receive a wage for teaching Torah only on Shabbos, even though
teaching Torah is a Mitzvah. The Gemara also quotes a Beraisa that says that
the people who watch the Parah Adumah and guard it from any Tum'ah may not
take wages for watching it on Shabbos (unless there is Havla'ah). The
Beraisa implies that even if he is involved in a Mitzvah on Shabbos, he may
not take wages for his work.
TOSFOS (37b) points out that although one may not involve himself in
business issues on Shabbos, he may involve himself in issues of Mitzvos,
even if it entails discussing expenses and costs for the Mitzvos. Why, then,
is one prohibited from taking a wage for doing a Mitzvah on Shabbos, such as
watching the Parah Adumah?
TOSFOS answers that although watching the Parah Adumah is a Mitzvah,
receiving a salary is not part of the Mitzvah, and therefore it is
The TUR (OC 585) quotes our Gemara and writes that he does not know what the
basis is for permitting those who blow the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah to
receive a salary. The BEIS YOSEF there quotes the MORDECHAI in Kesuvos who
says that receiving a salary for blowing the Shofar is permitted, since the
salary is being paid for the Mitzvah. The Beis Yosef explains that this is
not considered doing business on Shabbos, since the contract was made before
Shabbos. Although the Chachamim did not want people to take such wages since
it looks like one is working on Shabbos, it is not Asur and therefore it is
certainly permitted for the sake of a Mitzvah. (He quotes the Gemara in
Pesachim 50b that says that the Meturgeman will not see any blessing from
his wage, since it looks like he is receiving the wage for work on Shabbos.
This implies that receiving a wage for work done on Shabbos is not
prohibited, but it is also not commendable and strongly discouraged.)
The Tur's question, however, remains; our Sugya seems to say that it is
prohibited to take wages even for a Mitzvah. The TAZ answers that it is
permitted to take wages only for a Mitzvah that is necessary for Shabbos or
Yom Tov (such as the Shali'ach Tzibur or the Ba'al Toke'a), but not for
other Mitzvos (such as watching the Parah Adumah).
The MISHNAH BERURAH (OC 306:24) writes that the common practice is to be
lenient with regard to receiving a wage for a Mitzvah done on Shabbos. One
who wants to conduct himself stringently (and still get paid for his efforts
on behalf of the Mitzvah on Shabbos) should not set any fee prior to
Shabbos, but rather he should accept his "wages" as a gift *after* Shabbos.
Alternatively, he can do work during the week and be paid for Shabbos
The MISHNAH BERURAH (ibid.) adds that a midwife (or any medical
practitioner) is definitely permitted to take wages for her work on Shabbos.
The Poskim say that such a person should *not* be stringent not to take
wages, because this might cause him or her to avoid giving vital medical
assistance where needed.