My parents-in-law are in need of an increasing amount of my wife’s time to care for them. This makes it impossible for my wife to work. We have children who are learning in Kollel and need financial support. Is there a Halachic basis for asking my parents-in-law to financially compensate my wife in this situation? Thank you.

Answer:

This is a difficult situation, and the halachic guidelines are not clear-cut.

The obligation of honoring parents does not require a person to lose his source of income (see Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah 240:4; Aruch HaShulchan 240:36).

However, in this case your wife’s work seems to be supporting your children in Kollel, rather than yourselves, and refraining from work will affect your ability to support them but not your ability to support yourselves. The obligation to honor parents comes before helping out children, who can work for themselves if required. At the same time, it can be argued that helping out your children is part of your monthly expenses, and that this should not be separated from your own needs.

Under the circumstances, I think a polite request from parents to help out with support of your children is appropriate. This would not be presented as a demand of course, but as a request to compensate for the financial loss (for which there is some halachic basis). If the parents will say that this is difficult for them, however, I would not press the point.

Best wishes and good luck with navigating the situation.

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