Making a Living from YouTube Videos


When the pandemic began, I lost my job as the head chef of a restaurant. I had a lot of free time, so I started experimenting with my own recipes. I found I liked it so much that I made more and more recipes. And I started to share my recipes on YouTube.

I also had to find a new way to make a living because I was unemployed and had bills to pay. So I said at the end of each YouTube video recipe “if you like this recipe, you are encouraged to make a contribution to me in any amount you would like.” And I included a link. I found that lots of people did send me money. Most sent just a few bucks. Others sent hundreds. I even got a few payments over $1000. Most payments are small. But they all add up. I also make money from advertising. And I am now earning more than both my parents combined, and they are doctors.

My parents are very unhappy about this. They say what I am doing is unethical and they want no part in it. They call it a scam. They say it is no better than panhandling in the street. They want me to get a real job. I have so much money now flowing in every day that I don’t need one. Even videos I made over a year ago are still raking in money. On most days, I do no work at all. I feel what I am doing is fine because people are voluntarily paying me only because they choose to do so. No one is forced to pay me.

I think the real reason my parents are upset is because they have worked so tirelessly since the pandemic began with COVID patients and they get almost no rest. They are jealous I make so much more money than they do with great ease and without having spent so many years in school like they did. They wanted me to go to medical school just like them. Instead I dropped out of college in my first year. I have been at odds with them ever since. And now they say I am doing nothing useful for society.

As a rabbi, what is your opinion of this? Is what I am doing really unethical like my parents think? Am I really being unfair to them by earning money so much more easily? I am not much into Judaism, but I thought a rabbi could answer this for me.



  1. I am loathe to come in between yourself and your parents. Regardless of your parents views and regardless of whether they are mistaken or not, the obligation to honor your parents is always very much applicable. That means that you must do your best not to get drawn into arguments with them and certainly not to raise your voice to them. Having said that, I am not quite sure why they feel that what you are doing is a scam.

    You are selling a product, just like all the other products being sold on YouTube. As you write, no one is forcing anyone to buy your product and anyone who does purchase it is doing so completely voluntarily, and, presumably, both enjoying and receiving benefit from what you are selling. Perhaps this could be something that you could tell your parents to try and calm them down – that rather than doing nothing for society, you are actually bringing pleasure to the people who buy your recipes. Not only are the people who prepare your recipes getting enjoyment from them, but also everyone who eats whatever has been prepared is enjoying themselves, too.

    In any event, whatever you decide to tell your parents, you must always endeavor to do so with respect and with love. Despite your differences of opinion, they are your parents and that is what the Torah commands us to do.

    Best wishes from the Team