Is there a Mitzvah or obligation to buy Life Insurance?
There is no obligation or Mitzvah to purchase life insurance in order for ones spouse and or children to have money after one passes away. On the contrary, from a Torah perspective it actually doesn’t make sense to purchase life insurance. Allow me to explain:
The Gemora in Eruvin discusses that if one has money, enjoy it and don’t try to save it all for your children after one’s death for a simple logical reason. If ones children are supposed to have money they will have money without this inheritance. But if one’s children are not supposed to have money they will lose all this inheritance in a business deal.
Hashem takes care of His children and it is not our responsibility to care for our children’s finances for after we die nor do we have any power to actually take care of our children’s finances for after we die.
Our obligation is to teach our children a livelihood so our children can do their hishtadlut in a honest manner and lead honest lives.
We are also not permitted to waste our money. So if you have “extra” money you are not permitted to throw it in the garbage either. You can and should most definitely save money for expenses you may incur during your lifetime. For example, saving money to pay for your children’s tuition and weddings while you’re alive is the right thing to do. Saving for expenses your children with incur after your death is not necessary as we brought down from the Gemora.
There is also another Halacha which discusses someone giving away all his wealth before he dies leaving his children with no inheritance which is not permitted either.
There are many Halachot when it comes to saving and spending money.
What about the issue of leaving your family as a burden to the klall? For a nominal monthly cost you can cover, at least at a minimum your burial expenses. Why wouldn’t you want to additionally leave a policy that makes your spouse’s life a little easier to manage once you are no longer around and she is left on one income? You turned the shaila into leaving a fortune for your kids…that’s not the main intent of life insurance.
That’s a very valid question.
However our Chachamim have a very high standard when it comes to faith. It takes a strong person to be able to completely free one’s financial worries and leave it up to Hashem. But that’s our job. We need to work on realizing that Hashem takes care of us. The Gemara goes as far as to say that one who worries what he will eat tomorrow is weak in his faith.
This isn’t just Mussar or Hashkafah. This ideology translates into practical law. One of the applications is life insurance.
On the one hand, we are not allowed to be careless or irresponsible. We are not allowed to dump ourselves or families on the public and ask for charity if we are capable of supporting ourselves. But at the same time, it isn’t our job to worry about what may befall us in the future. Our Chachamim have taught us that we aren’t supposed to be concerned in that area, and we should leave it up to Hashem.
I know this is a tough topic for many and I hope this offers some clarity on the subject.
Isn’t that a bit like looking for nissim? One must do everything they can before relying on a miracle. We also know that Hashem only intervenes when one has done everything possible on their own, if even then. Assuming one’s family will somehow be taken care of through divine intervention is, in my opinion, relying on a nes. Moreover, death is NOT a suffok. Everyone will vadai pass. As you mentioned, this is a difficult one to comprehend, but I am not sure the argument is sound here.
No not really. Not more than all the other Nissim that take place in our daily lives.
You are comparing having faith to a miracle.
Parnassah is something that “by design” requires help from Hashem. We can’t make a penny on our own. So let the One who’s been helping till now continue doing His job. He’s pretty good at it!
First and foremost, the gemorah quoted above clearly disagrees with your understanding of ones obligation to save money for ones children after death.
Additionally, one is only required to do their hishtadlut and not more. One who does more hishtadlut than required is saying כחי ועצם ידי עשה לי את החיל הזה.
I’d also like to poke some holes in some of the arguments brought above.
Is one obligated to support all their grown up children for the rest of their children’s lives? How about grandchildren and great grandchildren?
Imagine one’s 20yr old son was sitting at home doing nothing all day and just living off the fathers bank account. Would throwing the son out of the house and cutting all support constitute relying on a miracle? Is this father obligated to continue supporting this child forever?
Please explain what miracle you’re referring to? Do you actually think that one can control and protect their children and grandchildren after death? Relying on Hashem to take care of ones children after death for generations to come has nothing to do with relying on miracles. It is simply trusting that Hashem created this world and has been taking care of everyone from day one and has been taking care of you your entire life and will continue to take care of you and your children and grandchildren forever so long as each individual does what is required of them.
If i’m not mistaken (and please correct me if I am wrong) there are other gemaras that discuss this issue at length as well.
- One is obligated to support their children for their entire lives. Yes, to the extent that they require support. What gemara puts an age restriction on parenting? There is no such gemara.
- I do not mean this to sound harsh, but there are numerous examples of those learning in kollel, without the requisite aptitude (not everyone is born to learn all day. In fact, it is reserved for a select few. In reality, most of us are amei haaretz). People, myself not included, support them. I also would consider throwing a child out, at any age, to be a horrible siman.
- Yes one can very much control and protect their children and grandchildren after death. That is exactly what life insurance is for.
I think we covered this topic thoroughly. So let’s end it here.
Please allow me to correct you.
There are Gemaras and halachot in Shulchan Aruch clearly contradicting your statements. According to the gemara one is not required to support older children (below bar mitzvah age). Obviously when it comes to practical application we don’t throw our children to the street when they turn 8, but you get my point.
If you’re interested, take a look at Gemara and Rashi Ktubot 50a and shulchan aruch Y"D 251:3 with Shach 4.
Why are we mixing kollel into the life insurance question? There’s no one size fits all, and everyone has to do what’s right for them.
Emunah and Bitachon require a lifetime of work. It’s not easy, but with some effort we can be successful at making great advances in this area. I’ve seen many people who thought they had things figured out financially, only to be proven wrong. And vice versa. I’m sure you do too. (Specifically with life insurance, I happen to know some sad stories too. Google it.)
Bottom line - הרבה שלוחים למקום - God has His ways. Never forget that.
Finally I will just point out that this isn’t some kind of new Psak. Rabbi Abadi has held this way for decades. He discussed it way back with Rav Moshe Feinstein.
Did Rav moshe agree? I think chazon ish held this way…
Yes, Rav Moshe agreed with Rav Yitzchak Abadi on this topic.
Did he write his teshuva before he spoke to rabbi abadi?
Rav Moshe wrote his teshuva beforehand. Rav Yitzchak Abadi went to discuss this question because of the teshuva that Rav Moshe wrote. Rav Abadi quoted the above mentioned gemorah as an apparent contradiction to Rav Moshe’s teshuva. Rav Moshe agreed to Rav Abadi and clarified that what he meant to say in his teshuva is that it’s not a sin to buy life insurance but not that it’s required or that it even make sense to buy it.
This is the dialogue Rav Yitzchak Abadi told me when we were learning this halachah together.
Oh wow. Thanx for that info
Hi. I happen to agree (not that I am one to talk) to rabbi abadi etc that life insurance isn’t needed and it’s a lack of bitachon etc
I happened to read Rav Moshe’s tshuva over shabbos and from reading it it seems like he held one should get it and that it’s a good thing to do. Not “just” permitted…
Correct, and that is why Rav Abadi went to discuss this teshuva with Reb Moshe. Reb Moshe responded to Rav Abadi that he meant to say in his teshuva that it’s not a sin to buy life insurance but not that it’s required.