Nedarim 37 - Making money on the Torah?

Earlier we saw that one is not allowed to take money for teaching Torah . We also saw that when this teaching is for singing the notes of the Torah, as it is sung in the synagogue, or simply for watching the kids so that they don't run out during lessons, then getting paid for this is acceptable.

But which of these two reasons is the real one? Some say that the singing notes were actually given to Moses together with the rest of the Torah: when Ezra read Torah for the people, he made them " understand the reading " - which is achieved with proper notes; thus, no money can be earned for teaching that.

Others argue and say that "understand the reading" refers to proper pronunciation, since there are places in the Torah where the words should not be read the way they are written. However, the notes were introduced by the Sages of the court of Solomon later, and reward may be taken for teaching them.

According to the first point of view then one is not paid for singing but for watching the children. This sounds reasonable, what will the opposing side say? They will answer that both boys and girls are equally taught, and that little girls cause less trouble and don't run out of the room - so one is not paid for watching them, and we are back to paying for singing.

Art: Portrait of Artist's Children by Jan Matejko