ARCHIVES: HILCHOS MAASER KESAFIM(Tithing of Income)
Originally written in 2009. Revised May 2014
BELOW ARE THE HALACHOS FROM THE DAILY EMAILS THAT WERE SENT OUT TO THE “HALACHA FOR TODAY” DAILY EMAIL LIST, INCLUDING THE DATES ON WHICH THEY WERE SENT, EXACTLY AS THEY WERE SENT.
Halachos for Sunday, May 4 2014
1) The Torah commands us to give Ma'aser from our animals and our grain etc. The Torah does not, however, directly command us to give Ma'aser from our income (money), and therefore it is a subject of debate if indeed such an obligation even exists.
There are opinions amongst the Rishonim that "Ma'aser Kesofim- tithing of money" is a biblical obligation. (Tosefos Taanis 9b, Ohr Zarua, Tashbatz and others. See Da'as Zekainin L'Baalei HaTosefos Breishis 28:22 that Yaakov Avinu instituted the tithing of money.)
Others, however, maintain that it is a rabbinic obligation. (MaHaril Siman 54, Rambam according to the interpretation of Shu"t Teshuva M'Ahava Vol. 1 Siman 87)
Some even say that it is only a minhag (custom), and the Poskim Achronim generally rely on this opinion for Halacha L'maaseh. (Bach Yoreh Deah 331, Shu"t Chasam Sofer Yoreh Deah Siman 231, Rav Akiva Eiger in his Pirush to Mishnayos Peah Perk 1 Mishna 1,Aruch HaShulchan Siman 249:5, Shu"t Teshuva M'Ahava ibid., Shu"t Minchas Yitzchok Vol. 8 Siman 83 just to name a few)
2) According to those that maintain that it is only a Minhag, the Mitzvah of Ma'aser Kesofim, when performed, is basically the Mitzvah of Tzedakah.
However, for one who already has the custom to give Ma'aser, it is already a strong obligation for him/her , and is like a Neder (biblical oath) which is much more severe than a D'Rabanan. (In Shu"t Sheilas Ya'avetz Vol. 1 Siman 6 he writes that one who gave Ma'aser even once (!) it is already like a Neder and one must continue doing so always)
Halachos for Monday, May 5 2014
1) One whose forefathers (i.e. parents or grandparents) had the custom to give Ma'aser, must continue this custom and give Ma'aser from any income he/she earns.
The reason for this is due to the Mitzvah of "Shma Bni Musar Avicha V'Al Titosh Toras Imecha" (Mishlei 1:8)
, the commandment to hold on to all good customs of your parents and grandparents.
One who now gives Ma'aser based on the aforementioned fact that his parents gave, can not be Matir Neder (absolve him/herself of this obligation) as he/she is doing so based on "Al Titosh Toras Imecha" and not based on a Neder.
(Based on Sefer Ahavas Chesed from the Chofetz Chaim)
2) According to many Poskim, nowadays (B'Zman HaZeh) when we do not practice "Ma'aser Tvuah- tithing of grain", it is obligatory on each and every individual to practice "Ma'aser Kesafim- tithing of income"
(Shla HaKadosh Chulin Inyan masa Umatan B'Emunah, Netziv in He'emek Shaila Parshas Korach Sheilta 132:1, Derech Emunah from Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita Hilchos Matnas aniyim Perek 7: Sif Katan 73 in the name of the Chazon Ish. This was also the opinion of the Steipler (in Kraina D'Igrasa Vol. 1 Os 189) and Rav Eliezer Menachem Man Shach Zatzal (Michtavim U'Maamarim Vol. 3 page 78) who always stressed to all who asked them the extreme importance of giving Ma'aser) as well as many other contemporary Poskim .See also Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah Vol. 1 Siman 143)
Halachos for Tuesday, May 6 2014
1) The minimum obligation for Ma'aser is to give 10% of your income to poor people (or other acceptable Tzedakah causes, details of which we will learn iy"H in the near future)
One who wants to be extra scrupulous and tithe "B'Ayin Yafeh- with a good [generous] eye" should tithe 20% (referred to in Halacha as "Chomesh- a fifth).
Many amazing things have been written in Chazal as well as by Rishonim and Achronim regarding those who give a "Chomesh"
(See Ahavas Chesed from the Chofetz Chaim Vol. 2 Perek 20:6)
2) The Gaon of Vilna was of the opinion that the obligation of Ma'aser is 20%, and those who do not give the full Chomesh are transgressing many positive and negative commandments.
Although many great sages (including the Gaon of Vilna, Chasam Sofer, The Steipler and Rav Eliezer Menachem Man Shach, just to name a few)
were scrupulous to always tithe 20%, the Poskim do not require the average Jew to do so, and maintain that by giving 10% the Mitzvah is fulfilled properly.
Rav Shlom Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal would answer those who asked him regarding whether to give 10% or 20%, that only one who has everything he/she requires for their home, down to the last window shade and carpet, should give 20%
Halachos for Wednesday, May 7 2014
1) The general halachic rule[for spending money on all Mitzvos, including] Tzedakah and Ma'aser is that one may not spend more than a fifth (20%) of his/her money, as doing so will put the person at risk of needing to rely on others for his/her daily sustenance.
(This is the concept referred to as "Al Yevazvez yoser M'Chomesh". See Talmud Kesubos 50b)
The Chofetz Chaim enumerated six exceptions to the aforementioned rule, instances where one may (and is encouraged to, and sometimes required to) spend beyond the 20% of his/her net worth, as follows:
a) In situations of life and death, one must spend down to his/her last penny to save a life.
b) In an area where poor people are prevalent, one may spend more than usual to help feed them.
c) An extremely wealthy person may spend beyond 20% of his/her worth, as doing so will still leave them with plenty of money to live comfortably.
d) One who gets a weekly paycheck from which they sustain themselves, may use the remainder for Tzedakah, after purchasing their weekly needs, even if that amount is more than 20% of the paycheck.
e) To support Torah learning, one is allowed to spend above the 20%
(See Shita Mekubetzes Kesubos ibid.)
f) One who in any case spends beyond their means for unnecessary items,and buys every vain item that strikes their fancy, may do the same for Mitzvah expenditures, even to the point of spending much more than 20%
(Chofetz Chaim in Ahavas Chesed Vol. 2 Perek 20. See also Derech Emunah from Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita Hilchos Matnas Aniyim, Perek 7 Os 26)
2) When one is R"L on his/her deathbed, they may give away all of their money to Tzedakah.
(according to the Rama Yoreh Deah 249:1)
Some Poskim maintain that even on one's deathbed he/she shouldn't give away all his/her possessions, but may only give away a third or half of what they own.
(Pri Megadim Orach chaim end of Siman 656, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Siman 34:4. See also Igros Moshe Choshen Mishpat Vol. 2 Siman 50 and Ahavas Chesed ibid.)
Halachos for Thursday, May 8 2014
1) Jews who are incarcerated in prison, even in civil countries, are considered "captives" according to many Poskim, and one may spend more than 20% of his/her income to secure their release as it is "Pidyon Shevuyim- releasing of captives".
(Psak of Rav Moshe Feinstein Zatzal and others)
2) Some Poskim maintain that "Pidyon Shevuyim" is only if a Jew is incarcerated "for no reason" as was common in the olden days for the authorities to put Jews behind bars for no reason other than the fact that they were jewish, but isn't very common today (Baruch Hashem as most of us live in Medinos Shel Chesed, benevolent host countries).
If one is incarcerated due to a crime he willingly committed (stealing, tax fraud or other serious crimes) there is no Pidyon Shevuyim, as he is being rightfully punished for his actions
(Psak of Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal. See also Pischei Teshuva Yoreh Deah Siman 251:1)
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh , May 9 2014
Double Portion L'Kavod Shabbos Kodesh
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) It is a good idea to have a separate bank account, where you deposit all the money that is for Ma'aser. Thus, it will always be easily accessible to you when the time to give to a poor person/worthy organization arises. (As is written in the last will of the father of the Shla HaKadosh and in the Shla in the 4th Perek of Chulin. See also Shu"t Shevet HaLeivi Vol. 5 Siman 133)
2) It is also a praiseworthy custom to immediately "separate" Ma'aser from any money earned and put it in the special account, rather than simply noting the amount due, and writing a check for that amount when the time comes. Doing this will ensure that you won't forget to separate the Ma'aser.
Also, the Seforim write about the blessings that will descend upon a person who "separates" the Ma'aser before actually giving it to Tzedakah. (See Alshich beginning of Parshas Terumah where he expounds upon this concept)
Halachos for Shabbos Kodesh
1) It is best to distribute your Ma'aser money to the poor people/worthy organizations as soon as possible, rather than letting it sit in your account, as letting it sit for too long may lead to a transgression of "Bal T'Acher- Do Not Delay".
2) If no poor people are around and you don't have to whom to give your Ma'aser you won't transgress anything.
However, nowadays where so many organizations exist that feed the poor and otherwise do valuable Chesed, it isn't possible to say that "there aren't any poor people around", and Ma'aser should be given as soon as possible.
The absolute limit for not transgressing "Bal T'Acher" is to give it before 3 Yomim Tovim (Pesach, Shavuos or Succos) pass.
Halachos for Sunday, May 11 , 2014
1) Any money that one earns is subject to the obligation of Ma'aser. This includes monetary gifts, money that was found or any other money that is now lawfully yours.
According to many Poskim it is either mandatory or a very praiseworthy act to give Ma'aser from non monetary gifts as well. (According to the Chazon Ish, doing so will save the giver from much harm).
The way to do this is to figure out how much the gift is worth (the lowest price possible to pay for this item on the open market), and then give 10% of that value to Tzedaka.
2) One who receives money from his/her parents or in-laws for living expenses must give Ma'aser from that money. (Psak of Rav Moshe Feinstein Zatzal and Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal. However, Rav Moshe writes that if the money is given to the Chasan (groom) for the express purpose that he may sit and learn calmly without worrying about providing for his wife, he is exempt from Ma'aser. See Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah Vol. 2 Siman 112)
A poor person that receives money from Tzedaka should give 10% of what he receives to another poor person. (According to the Peleh Yoetz, chapter on Ma'aser).
Others argue and maintain that he may not give money that was given to him for living expenses to Tzedaka (Psak of Rav Moshe Sternbuch Shlita quoted in Am HaTorah journal 1982 Mahadura 2:2)
Halachos for Monday, May 12 , 2014
1) If money was stolen from you, and you already gave up on ever getting it back, and then it was returned to you, it is considered a "new gain" and is subject to Ma'aser. (Sefer Chasidim 144)
The same applies to money that you lent to someone, and you gave up on ever getting it back. If you do indeed get it back you are required to give Ma'aser from it. (Shu"t Teshuva M'Ahava Vol. 1 Siman 87 and Sefer HafLa'ah Kesubos 50b)
2) If one inherits money, it is subject to Ma'aser, even if the one he inherited from was scrupulous to give Ma'aser and thus this money was already tithed, the inheritor is considered a new owner and must give Ma'aser again. (Elya Rabbah Siman 156, Shl"ah HaKadosh Siman 262)
Money won in a lottery or raffle is subject to Ma'aser. If the earnings are taxable, Ma'aser must only be given from the post-tax winnings. (Rav Moshe Feinstein Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 4 Siman 76:2. Regarding if the raffle was bought initially with Ma'aser money (such as a Tzedakah auction or raffle) Rav Moshe Zatzal says that if one actually wins the raffle, he should give the amount that the ticket cost to maaser, from non maser money. (For example if one spent $18 for a raffle ticket and he won $1,000, he should now give an $18 donation from his regular account to maaser) to offset the fact that he originally used maaser money to purchase the ticket
Rav Moshe adds that the winner should give the ma’aser from his prize to the organization he won the money from. This is not mandatory halacha per se, rather a proper thing to do as Hakoras Hatov.
(See also Shu"t Teshuvos V'Hanhagos Vol. 3 Siman 289, Shu"t Shevet HaLeivi Vol. 9 Siman 200, Derech Emunah, Matnos Aniyim Perek 7; Biur Halachah dibur Hamaschil V'Echad and Shu"t Even Yisroel Vol. 8 Siman 64 for other opinions and information about this topic)
Halachos for Tuesday, May 13 , 2014
1) According to some Poskim, the only people that are exempt from Ma'aser are those individuals who don't have bread to eat and water to drink (See Shu"t Teshuvos V'HanHagos from Rav Moshe Sternbuch Shlita Vol. 1 Siman 560)
Other Poskim maintain that as long as someone is living financially strained, where he must rely on others to make ends meet, and doesn't live with any luxuries at all, he/she is exempt from the obligation of Ma'aser (See Shu"t Teshuvos V'Hanhagos ibid. and in Vol. 3 Siman 285)
According to everyone, one who is living meagerly, may purchase home necessities such as refrigerator, washing machine, dryer. Oven, beds, dressers, tables and chairs etc. before starting to figure any earnings for Ma'aser. (See Shu"t Minchas Tzvi Siman 6)
2) One who receives Tzedaka is exempt from Ma'aser. If he does want to give Ma'aser anyhow, he should give it to the fund from where he received it.
Halachos for Wednesday, May 14 , 2014
1) The Halachos of Ma'aser Kesafim are equally applicable to men and women.(Psak of Rav Menashe Klein Zatzal. The Chazon Ish used to tell women and girls to give Ma'aser as well)
2) Ma'aser may be given with commodities as well as with money (e.g. You may give an organization a car worth the amount of money that you owe to Ma'aser etc.)
If a landlord has a tenant that is poor, he may give him a break in the rent and consider that loss as Ma'aser.
One may take his/her Ma'aser money and start a Gemach (Free loan fund) from which to lend money to less fortunate people.
Halachos for Thursday, May 15 , 2014
1) According to many Poskim it is permissible to use Ma'aser money to give someone a loan, regardless if the borrower is rich or poor, as one who is borrowing money is considered "poor" for this situation. (Elya Rabbah Orach Chaim Siman 156:2 and others)
2) The "main" place to give Ma'aser money is to poor people. (See Rama Yoreh Deah Siman 249)
However, if someone is financially strained, his (and his family's) needs take precedence and he should provide for himself (and his family) before giving other poor people. (See Radbaz on the Rambam Hilchos Matnas Aniyim Perek 7 Halacha 13. See also Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah Vol. 2 Siman 75)
Some Poskim maintain, however, that once he and his family have the bare basics, and he earns enough that he doesn't have to accept Tzedaka from others, he is obligated in Ma'aser (Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita in Derech Emuna Hilchos Matnas Aniyim Perk 7:91 quoting the Aruch HaShulchan. This was also Psak of Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal)
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh, May 16, 2014
Double Portion L'Kavod Shabbos Kodesh
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) One who has sons and/or sons in law that are learning Torah full time and are on a fixed meager income from their Kollel, may give them additional money for their living expenses from Ma'aser.
In fact, Rav Moshe Sternbuch Shlita writes (Kuntres Am HaTorah from 1982 Edition 2 Choveres 2) that they take precedence over everyone else.
However, if the father/father in law had committed himself at the onset of the marriage to give his children a certain amount of money per week or month, he may not give it from Ma'aser, unless he stipulated this from the beginning, otherwise it will be like paying your bills from Ma'aser, which is forbidden. (Shu't Chasam Sofer Yoreh Deah Siman 231. See also Shu"t Tzitz Eliezer Vol. 9 Siman 1)
2) Money given to a Kollel couple to purchase a luxury item may not be given from Ma'aser (Shu"t Teshuvos V'Hanhagos Vol. 1 Siman 576)
Halachos for Shabbos Kodesh
1) When giving Ma'aser or any Tzedaka, one's poor relatives take precedence over any other poor people. (In Sefer Chasidim Siman 530 he writes that one who overlooks his own poor relatives and gives others first, will be punished with poverty R"L)
2) The order of precedence for giving Tzedaka (in most cases) is as follows :
Children under the age of 6
Children older than 6
Poor People from your city (However, if one lives in a large city such as New York, only his immediate neighborhood is considered his city for this purpose according to Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach zatzal)
Poor people from other cities
Halachos for Sunday, May 18 2014
1) Poor people from Eretz Yisroel take precedence over poor people from other cities (besides your own)
Poor people from Yerushalayim take precedence over poor people from other cities in Israel. (Shu"t Chasam Sofer Yoreh Deah Vol. 2 Siman 274)
This includes both the new and old cities of Jerusalem (Psak of Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal)
2) A Kohen takes precedence to a Levi, and a Levi takes precedence over a Yisroel, when their needs are equal. (See Shu"t Shevet Halevi from Rav Shmuel Wosner Shlita Vol. 3 Siman 125)
Halachos for Monday, May 19 2014
1) One should not give Ma'aser to a poor person that is a "Rasha L'Hachis" (A Sinful person who does Aveiros and disregards the Torah to spite Hashem), even if he did this act only once [and didn't do Teshuva] (Psak of Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbac Zatzal based on Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 251:2)
If the poor person is a "Rasha L'Teavon" (Sinful person who does Aveiros for his own enjoyment, and not in spite) according to some Poskim he may be given Ma'aser, while others maintain that even to such a Rasha we shouldn't give. (See Shach and Taz to Shulchan Aruch ibid.)
All agree that a righteous poor person takes precedence over a sinful one. (See Rabbeinu Yonah to Pirkei Avos Perek 1 Mishna 2)
2) If one gave Tzedaka/Ma'aser to one who isn't deserving of it according to Halacha, he/she receives no heavenly reward for that Tzedaka. (See Talmud Bava Kama 15b. Also see Sefer Chasidim Siman 61)
Some Poskim even maintain that after giving Ma'aser to a non deserving poor person, you haven't satisfied your obligation and must give additional money.(Sefer Hilchos Ma'aser Kesafim quoting Harav Elchanan Peretz Shlita in the Tzohar Torah journal Vol. 5 Page 137)
Halachos for Tuesday, May 20 2014
1) It is best to "spread the wealth" and give Ma'aser to many poor people, rather than give it all to one individual.
However, if by spreading it out [too much] , none of the poor people will have enough to sustain themselves, it is indeed better to give to one [or 2] the amount they need to sustain themselves properly. (Based on the words of the Rambam in Pirkei Avos 3:15 who discusses this idea at length, not only from a Halachic point of view. See also Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 257:9 and Shach and Taz ibid. See also Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah Vol. 1 Siman 144)
2) One's own wedding expenses should not be taken from Ma'aser. Likewise, any expenses that accrue in the pursuit of finding a spouse (dating, dowries etc.)should not be taken from Ma'aser (Shu"t Beis Din Shel Shlomo Yoreh Deah Siman 1)
Wedding expenses for one's children, as well as expenses of buying newlywed children a home, furniture, clothing may be taken from Ma'aser according to many Poskim, even if you have other money from where to pay these expenses. (Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal. However, see Shu"t Shevet Halevi Vol. 9 Siman 201 where he differentiates between a small dwelling and a larger one. See also Shu"t Tzitz Eliezer Vol. 9 Siman 1)
Halachos for Wednesday, May 21 2014
1) One should not use Ma'aser money to pay "Shadchanus" (money paid to a matchmaker who facilitates a shiduch) even if the Shadchan is a poor person (See Shu"t Zichron Yeuda Yoreh Deah Siman 192. See also Emes L'Yaakov from Rav Yaakov Kemenetsky Zatzal Yoreh Deah Siman 249 for an elaboration and resoning behind this Halacha)
2) Parents may not put aside Ma'aser money for their small children, in order to set up a "fund" with which to marry them off when they become of age. (Psak of Rav Shlomo Zalmen Aurbach and Maran Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv Zichronam L'Vracha)
However, the parents may give the Ma'aser money to a Gemach (free loan fund) to use to help others and stipulate that when the children grow up, the money must be made available to help them with the wedding expenses. (Psak of Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg Zatzal)
If the children are older and near marriageable age, the parents may indeed set aside Ma'aser money in a "fund" to use for the wedding expenses. (Rav Shmuel Wosner Shlita. See also Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah Vol. 1 Siman 144)
The age that is considered "marriageable age" is 17 for girls and 18 for boys (according to Maran Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv Zatzal).
Others maintain that the age begins at 11 for girls and 12 for boys(Rav Shmuel Wosner Shlit"a, who says that from that age, parents already start worrying about the wedding expenses and start cutting back on other household expenses such as new furniture etc. in order to save money for future weddings)
Halachos for Thursday, May 22 2014
1) Ma'aser is calculated from post-tax income.
Household necessities such as refrigerators, washing machines, tables and chairs etc. can be bought before beginning to calculate Ma'aser. One who is financially sound should calculate the Ma'aser before buying the aforementioned items.(Minchas Tzvi Siman 6)
One should calculate Ma'aser before purchasing clothing for himself and his children. (Rav Shmuel Wosner in Shu"T Shevet HaLevi Vol. 5 Siman 133)
2) A woman who goes out to work, which necessitates the hiring of a babysitter for the children and/or a housekeeper for the home, may deduct the amount paid to the babysitter/housekeeper from her income that is obligated in Ma'aser.
If the babysitter/housekeeper would have been hired in any case, even if the woman wouldn't be working, the money may not be deducted from the Ma'aser obligation.(Tzedaka U'Mishpat Perek 5 footnote 35)
A woman who needs to buy a new wardrobe for her job may deduct the amount paid for the clothing from her Ma'aser obligation. (Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky Zatzal in Emes L'Yaakov Yoreh Deah Siman 249)
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh, May 23 2014
Double Portion L'Kavod Shabbos Kodesh
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1)One who is taking a course to learn a trade may deduct the amount spent for the course from his yearly income when calculating Ma'aser for the coming year. However, one may not deduct this year the amount he previously spent on education in years past.
The above Halacha applies even to someone who already has a livelihood but wants to take an additional course to advance in his/her chosen profession (e.g. a physician's assistant wants to become a doctor, a clerk wants to become a lawyer, etc.)
Expenses such as books, tools and travel that are directly related to one's education may also be deducted from yearly income when calculating Ma'aser. (Psakim of Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal)
2) However, one who spends money to go to school for general education, but not directly related to a specific skill or method of livelihood, may not deduct the fees from the yearly income that is obligated in Ma'aser. (Minchas Tzvi Siman 5. Regarding men going to school for general knowledge not directly related to Parnasah see Birchas Shmuel Kiddushin Siman 27. Of course, every individual must seek the guidance of their Rav before enrolling in any secular college or university, to ensure that it is done according to the tenets of the holy Torah)
Halachos for Shabbos Kodesh
1) Sales tax is a monetary obligation that each person must pay when purchasing an item, and thus may not be deducted from the amount you earned when calculating Ma'aser.
Income tax that is deducted before you receive your pay is not considered income. (See Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah Vol. 1 Siman 143 and Shu"t Teshuvos V'Hanhagos Vol. 1 Siman 560. Dayan Weiss Zatzal in Minchas Yitzchak Vol. 5 Siman 34 maintains that although exempt, one who does indeed give Ma'aser from the money that was deducted for income tax, is praiseworthy.)
Income tax refunds are considered income, and Ma'aser must be given from them.
2) Money spent on optional life insurance policies is not exempt from Ma'aser.
However, health insurance premiums are exempt from Ma'aser (Psak of Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal. Rav Menashe Klein Zatzal disagrees and maintains that health insurance premiums are like any other household expense and may not be deducted from income when calculating Ma'aser)
Fire, theft and accident insurance may be deducted from income.
Halachos for Sunday, May 25, 2014
1) Money that was designated for Ma'aser (without any stipulations about its use) may not be used for any other Mitzvah and must be given to poor people.
(Rama Yoreh Deah Siman 249:1)
Some Poskim maintain that if an opportunity to do a [non obligatory] Mitzvah arises that requires the spending of money (e.g. marrying off an orphan) and one would not be able to afford the Mitzvah otherwise, he/she may use Ma'aser money to perform the Mitzvah.
However, if one is obligated to perform this Mitvah (e.g. buying an Esrog and Lulav) Ma'aser money may not be used according to all Poskim. (See Shu"t Chasam Sofer Yoreh Deah Siman 231 for a more lengthy explanation of the difference between Mitzvos that are required and those that aren't)
2) The best thing to do when separating money for Ma'aser is to stipulate that it may be spent how you see fit, thus it will be permitted to use it for any Mitzvos that arise. (Shu"t Bais Dino Shel Shlomo Yoreh Deah Siman 1; See also Shu"t Chasam Sofer ibid. and Birchei Yosef Siman 249:4)
If one's custom is to always give his/her Ma'aser money to poor people, according to many Poskim, the above stipulation will not work and he/she must only use the Ma'aser money for poor people. (See Shu"t Tzitz Eliezer Vol. 9 Siman 1. See also Shu"t Levushei Mordechai Yoreh Deah Siman 179)
Halachos for Monday, May 26, 2014
1) Any Tzedaka that one is accustomed to give (Meshulach at the door, in Shul, solicitation letters etc.) may be deducted from the amount owed to Ma'aser, as long as one stipulated when calculating the Ma'aser that he/she be allowed to distribute this money however they want. (Chofetz Chaim in Ahavas Chesed Perek 18:3. See also Shu"t Mishna Halachos Vol. 6 Siman 168)
2) Mishloach Manos that is given out to friends and family on Purim may not be bought with Ma'aser money (See Shu"t Chasam Sofer Orach Chaim Siman 196 for a lengthy discussion about this)
Matanos L'Evyonim that is given to poor people on Purim may not be given with Ma'aser money.
(Being that this is a Takana D'Rabanan to give, it is considered a debt and thus may not be paid with Ma'aser. See Shu"t Maharil Siman 56. See also Mogen Avraham Orach Chaim Siman 694:1)
However, once the obligation of Matanos L'Evyonim was fulfilled by giving 2 coins to 2 poor people, any additional money one gives to additional poor people throughout the day of Purim, may be given from Ma'aser money. (Maharil ibid. See also Mishna Berura Siman 694:2 at length)
Halachos for Tuesday, May 27, 2014
1) "Kaparos" money (which many people use on Erev Yom Kippur in place of a chicken) may not be taken from Ma'aser. (Shl"a Maseches Yoma Amud haTeshuva Dibur HaMaschil B'Erev Yom Kippur)
The "Machtzis HaShekel" given [in Shul] each year in Chodesh Adar, before Purim may not be given from Ma'aser. (Shu"t Bais Dino Shel Shlomo Yoreh Deah Siman 1. See also Sefer Tzedaka U'mishpat Perek 6 footnote 37)
Nowadays that there is no set amount which must be given for "Kimcha D'Pischa" (obligatory contribution that each community member must contribute to a "fund" which provides Pesach necessities to the poor people in the city) it is no different than any Tzedaka, and may thus be given from Ma'aser. (Psak of Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal quoted in Ma'adanei Shlomo Inyanei Pesach. Others argue on this Psak. See Shu"t Shevet HaKehasi Vol. 1 Siman 137 at length.)
2) Ma'aser money may be used for expenses related to fixing a community Eiruv, if one is doing so on his/her own accord.
However, if the community association is obligating all residents to pay into a fund for the maintenence of the Eiruv, it may not be paid from Ma'aser money.
(Psak of Rav Menashe Klein Zatza. See also Sefer Tzedaka U'Mishpat Perek 6:10)
Halachos for Wednesday, May 28, 2014
1) It is acceptable to "buy" Aliyos to the Torah or other Kibudim (honors during the davening, such as opening the Aron Kodesh, Hagbah etc.) with Ma'aser money, if the money goes to help poor people. (See Shu"t Bais Dino Shel Shlomo Yoreh Deah Siman 1. See also Ahavas Chesed Vol. 2 Perek 19:2 and Shu"t Chasam Sofer Yoreh Deah Siman 249)
If only part of the money goes to poor people, and the rest goes to the Shul or another acceptable cause, then Ma'aser money may be used only if there is nobody else to "buy" the Aliyos, and even then it is best to only give the part that goes to the poor people from Ma'aser.
2) One must have in mind before bidding on these honors that if he wins he plans to pay using Ma'aser money, otherwise it is like any other debt, and he cannot pay with Ma'aser money. (Shu"t Bais Dino Shel Shlomo ibid.)
If the entire money goes to pay the Shul's expenses (utilities, salaries of Chazan, caretaker etc.) it should not be paid for with Ma'aser money.(ibid.)
Halachos for Thursday, May 29, 2014
1) When using Ma'aser money to pay for Aliyos or other Kibbudim (when all the conditions we enumerated yesterday have been met) according to many Poskim, only the amount that you added above the previous bid may come from Ma'aser.
For example, if the bidding was holding at $50, and you upped it to $75, you may pay $25 of that from Ma'aser while the other $50 must be paid from your own money.
The reason for this is because had you not bid, the Tzedaka would have received $50 anyway from the person that originally bid, and you only added an additional $25. Only the gain that you aided the Tzedaka in getting may come from Ma'aser.(Elya Rabba Orach Chaim Siman 156 and Rav Akiva Eiger on Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah Siman 249. This is also how Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky Zatzal in Emes L'yaakov Yoreh Deah Siman 249 and many other Gedolei HaPoskim Pasken L'maaseh)
2) However, if the original bidder was planning to use Ma'aser money too to pay if he won, perhaps the above Halacha would be different as in that case, the original $50 would have been from Ma'aser money anyway, albeit from a different person.
A Rav should be consulted for Halacha L'maaseh.
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh, May 30, 2014
Double Portion L'Kavod Shabos Kodesh
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) If one pledged money toward the building of a Shul or a Mikvah, if he/she had in mind at the time of the pledge that it would be paid off with Ma'aser money, it may be paid off with Ma'aser according to all opinions.
If he/she did not have this in mind at the time of the pledge, there is a dispute amongst the Poskim if Ma'aser money can still be used.
The prevalent Minhag is to be lenient in this matter and allow the use of Ma'aser money. (Ruling of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach Zatzal)
2) Some Poskim maintain that it is best not to use Ma'aser money for the building of Shuls and Mikvaos, unless the construction of the building will be delayed due to lack of funds, then according to everyone you may use Ma'aser to expedite the building process. (See Shu"t Teshuvos V'hanhagos Vol. 1 Siman 578 where he differentiates between a regular shul building and a huge, magnificent one. See also Shu"t Kaneh Bosem Vol. 3 Siman 84 for more about this)
Halachos for Shabbos Kodesh
1) One may not use Ma'aser money to pay a Sofer (scribe) to write a Sefer Torah for himself. (Netziv in Shu"t Meishiv Davar Vol. 2 Siman 75. See also Shu"t Shevet Haleivi Vol. 3 Siman 147)
However, regarding the use of Ma'aser money to help a Shul pay for a Sefer Torah that will be used publicly, the Poskim are lenient and allow it.
(Shu"t Shevet Haleivi ibid.)
2) One may hire a tutor to teach Torah to children of poor people and pay him from Ma'aser money. In fact doing so is a great Mitzva.
(Chofetz Chaim in Ahavas Chesed Vol. 2 Perek 19:2)
Halachos for Sunday, June 1, 2014
1) According to many Poskim, it is permissible to give Ma'aser money to your children, relatives or any Talmid Chacham to form a "Yissachar-Zevulun" partnership (where by supporting the one learning Torah, the "Zevulun" gets an equal part of the reward of all the Torah that is learned by the "Yissachar") (Shu"t Chelkas Yaakov Yoreh Deah Siman 137. See Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah Vol. 4 Siman 37 at length for a more detailed discussion about this)
Some Poskim, however, disagree and maintain that since both "partners" are profiting from this "deal", Ma'aser money may not be used. (Psak of Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal in Shu"t Minchas Shlomo Vol. 2 Siman 97:11)
2) A father may not use Ma'aser money to purchase a pair of Tefillin for his son, as this is an obligation on every father. (Shu"t P'As Sadecha Siman 118 based on Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Siman 37:3)
However, if a father can only afford an average pair, he may purchase a "Mehudar" pair and pay the difference in price between the two pairs from Ma'aser.
One who can financially afford the better pair, should not use any Ma'ser at all for their purchase. (ibid.)
Rabbeinu Tam Tefilin may not be purchased with Ma'aser money (Psak of Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita)
Halachos for Monday, June 2, 2014
1) One who is making a Seudas Mitzvah (e.g. Bris, Bar Mitzvah [according to some Poskim], Siyum on a Mesechta where 10 people will participate, etc.) may not pay the expenses of the meal with Ma'aser money.
However, if in order to avoid family[or other] conflict, one is compelled to invite more people than originally planned, half of the additional costs may be taken from Ma'aser. (Shu"t Hagr"i Gans based on Ahavas Chesed Vol. 2 Perek 19:2. See also Shu"t Chasam Sofer Siman 231)
2) Ma'aser money may be used to purchase kosher food for Jews who aren't accustomed to eating Kosher. (Psak of Rav Moshe Feinstein Zatzal quoted in Kuntres Am HaTorah Mahadura 2 Choveres 11)
Halachos for Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Triple Portion L’Kavod Shavuos
Halachos for Erev Yom Tov
1)May one purchase "Sefarim- Torah Literature" with Ma'aser money?
This is a much discussed question amongst the Halachic authorities, and we will try to work out the many different opinions, variations and situations.
Some Poskim maintain that one who cannot afford to purchase his/her own Sefarim, may indeed purchase them with Ma'aser money even if they will be used for personal use, as long as they will also be lent to others to use (even if the "others" can afford to purchase their own Sefarim).
This is only true for Sefarim that are necessary for the topic currently being studied, and not simply for the purposes of expanding his/her library. (See Shach Siman 249:3, quoted in Ahavas Chesed Vol. 2 Perek 19:2. See also Shu"t Tzitz Eliezer Vol. 9 Siman 1)
2) If one bought a Sefer with Ma'aser money and wants to use it at the same time that someone else wants to use it, the one who bought the Sefer takes precedence.(See Shu"t Meishiv Davar Vol. 2 Siman 75. See also Shu"t Shevet Haleivi Vol. 8 Siman 163 for some more details)
Halachos for Wednesday, Chag Hashavuos
1)One who purchases Sefarim with Ma'aser money should clearly write on the inside front cover of the Sefer that it was purchased with Ma'aser money.
The main reason for this is that when the Sefarim get passed on to one's children they should be aware that they may not keep them for themselves, but must "share" them with others. (Taz Yoreh Deah Siman 249:1 See also Shu"t Bais Dino Shel Shlomo Yoreh Deah Siman 1. This was the custom of the Steipler Zatzal [in the early days when he used to buy Sefarim with Ma'aser money]. The Chazon ish was also very Makpid that if one relies on these Heterim to buy with Ma'aser, he must write this inside.)
2) Some Poskim maintain that only rare Sefarim that one would not otherwise purchase with regular money, may be purchased using Ma'aser money (Shu"t Mishne Halachos Vol. 6 Siman 197. Though he writes there, that the Mihag Ha'Olam is to be lenient)
Other Poskim prohibit buying any Sefarim with Ma'aser money (Aruch HaShulchan Yoreh Deah Siman 249:10. He writes that although "Heterim "can be found for this practice, it is best to stay away from these Heterim. This is also the opinion of the Shita MeKubetzes Kesubos 50b, quoted in the MaHarsham as well as many other Poskim)
Nowadays when Sefarim are so commonplace, easy to find, affordable, and not "lent out" to other people as often as they were in the old days (as most people have their own Sefarim), many contemporary Poskim say it is best to be stringent and refrain from using Ma'aser money to purchase Sefarim. (Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita in Derech Emunah Hilchos Matnas Aniyim Perek 7 in Biur HaHalacha Dibur HaMaschil V'Echad M'Asara. This is also the opinion of Rav Shmuel Wosner Shlita in Shu"t Shevet Haleivi Vol. 7 Siman 194 and in Vol. 5 Siman 133 (in the comments to the new edition (Mahadura Chadasha). This was also the opinion of Maran Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv Zatzal)
Halachos for Thursday, 2nd Day Chag Hashavuos in Chutz L'Aretz
1) Even according to the opinions that prohibit purchasing Sefarim using Ma'aser money, the amount spent on the Sefarim [needed for learning] may be deducted from the total income on which Ma'aser is calculated. (Tzedaka U'Mishpat Perek 5 footnote 34)
According to all opinions, Ma'aser money may be used to purchase Sefarim that will be lent to others who cannot afford to buy them on their own, even if the buyer can afford to use his/her own money for this purpose. (Bais Dino Shel Shlomo Y"D Siman 1. See also Ahavas Chesed Vol. 2 Perek 19:2 who writes that it is a unanimous Psak and there is no room or reason to be stringent. See also Shu"t Chasam Sofer Y"D Siman 249)
2) Even one who purchases Sefarim with Ma'aser according to the above guidelines, in order to lend to others, is not required to allow everybody that wants to come into his/her home at any time to use the Sefarim. (Shu"t Mishne Halachos Vol. 6 Siman 198, based on Taz Siman 249)
It is permitted, according to all opinions, to purchase Sefarim with Ma'aser money and donate them to a Shul, Yeshiva or other public Batei Midrash. (Shu"t Shevet Haleivi Vol. 7 Siman 194)
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh, June 6, 2014
Double Portion L’Kavod Shabbos Kodesh
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) Fathers [and mothers] are obligated to teach, or hire someone to teach, their sons Torah. Therefore, many Poskim are of the opinion that one may not pay for the teaching of their son's Torah (i.e. tuition) from Ma'aser money. (Elya Rabbah Orach Chaim Siman 156:2. See also Shu"t Shevet Haleivi Vol. 5 Siman 133)
Other Poskim, however, do allow one who is financially strained to use Ma'aser money to pay the tution for his sons. These Poskim allow this for younger sons (under Bar Mitzvah) as well as for older sons (High school age).
2) If the teacher is a poor person, there is even more reason to allow this practice.(See Rishon L'Tzion from Rav Chaim ben Atar Zatzal Y"D Siman 249. See also Shu"t Divrei Malkiel Vol. 5 Siman 115)
Being that nowadays when one pays tuition, part of the cost that is paid goes to offset the tuition for those students from poor homes who cannot afford to pay tuition, that portion may be taken from Ma'aser according to all opinions (Psak of Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal)
Halachos for Shabbos Kodesh
1) One may send his son to a "better" Cheder (elementary school), and pay the difference in price (versus an average, or public Cheder) from Ma'aser.
Since the obligation of a father is only to teach his son "Mikrah- the written Torah", many Poskim who disallow using Ma'aser for elementary school tuition, do in fact allow using Ma'aser money for High school (Mesivta) tuition as in High School they are already learning "Torah Sh'Baal Peh- the oral Torah" (Shulchan Aruch HaRav Hilchos Talmud Torah Perek 1:7. See Shulchan Aruch Y"D Siman 245 and see also Orchos Rabbeinu from the Steipler Zatzal Vol. 1 page 298 and page 301)
However, some Poskim maintain that if one isn't financially strained, he should refrain from using Ma'aser money even for High school tuition. (Shu"t Shevet Haleivi ibid.)
2) The Poskim maintain that since part of tuition is to cover the cost of food, room and board, the amount that would have been spent on these items had the child been at home should be calculated, and that part of the tuition should not be taken from Ma'aser. (Tzedaka U'Mishpat Chapter 6:35)
Halachos for Sunday, June 8 2014
1) According to some Poskim, paying tuition for girls' education from Ma'aser money is allowed, as there is no obligation to teach or hire someone to teach your daughters Torah. (Opinion of Dayan Weiss Zatzal in Shu"t Minchas Yitzchok Vol. 10 Siman 85. See also Shu"t Teshivos V'hanhagos from Rav Moshe Sternbuch Shlita Vol. 1 Siman 560 and 561)
Others, however, maintain that in places where girls' [elementary school] education is mandatory by law[as it is in the USA], thus it is an obligation on parents to send their daughters to Torah schools (so as not to be forced to place them in Public schools) and the tuition may not be paid from Ma'aser money.(Opinion of Rav Moshe Feinstein Zatzal in Igros Moshe Y"D Vol. 2 Siman 113 and Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky Zatzal in Emes L'Yaakov Y"D Siman 249)
2) Using Ma'aser money for tuition for older daughters for their seminary education, which isn't obligatory on a father, is acceptable. (Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky Zatzal ibid. This was also the opinion of the Steipler Zatzal)
Regarding using Ma'aser money to pay for a daughter's college education, where the purpose of her education is to be able to learn the skills necessary to support a husband that will learn in Kollel, a Rav should be consulted.
Halachos for Monday, June 9, 2014
1) Although we discussed over the past few weeks [and will discuss a little more in the next few days] many "other" Mitzvah uses for which Ma'aser money may be used, it is important to remember that the "ideal" use for Ma'aser money is for poor people. (Ram"a Y"D Siman 249, based on Talmud Yerushalmi Peah Perek 1)
Therefore, all the other permitted uses for Ma'aser should be used sporadically, and one should definitely not use a whole year's worth of Ma'aser money on things other than poor people. (Psak of Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal. See also the strong words of the Steipler Zatzal about one who uses too much of his/her Ma'aser money for other purposes in Kreina D'Igresa Vol. 2 Letter 126)
2) A city or a community should not pay its Rav from the "community Tzedaka fund". However, individual members of the congregation may give their personal Ma'aser money to the Rav. (See Ram"a Yoreh Deah Siman 251:13)
Some Poskim maintain, that the above Halacha is for money above the salary that was decided upon between the community and the Rav, but the actual salary may indeed be taken from the "community Tzedaka fund" (Rishon L'Tzion ibid.)
Halachos for Tuesday, June 10, 2014
1) One, who in a time of distress or danger, promised to give money to Tzedaka, may not pay this promised money using Ma'aser money. (Shu"t Bais Dino Shel Shlomo, Hilchesa Pesikta)
One who sets boundaries for themselves (which is a good thing to do) and subjects him/herself to "fines" if they G-d forbid transgress an Aveira (e.g. "Every time I speak Lashon Hara I will give a dollar to Tzedaka" or "Every time I see something forbidden for Jewish eyes to see, I will put $10 in the Pushka" etc.) may not pay the "fine" using Ma'aser money. (ibid.)
2) Someone who simply says "I promise money to Tzedaka", without having in mind to use Ma'aser money for this promise, may not fulfill the promise with Ma'aser money, as once it's a promise it is an obligation, and obligations may not be paid using Ma'aser as we have learned.
One who promises money to a Shul upon making a "Mi Shebeirach" after getting an Aliyah may use Ma'aser money according to some Poskim (Psak of the Chazon Ish Zatzal brought in Orchos Rabbeinu Vol. 1 Page 303.) Other Poskim are stringent and do not allow it.(Hilchos Ma'aser Kesafim quoting the Nehar Metzarim Y"D)
Halachos for Wednesday, June 11, 2014
1) One may pay a non religious worker or employee, even if it is clear that he/she will not separate Ma'aser from their paycheck, and there is no problem of "Lifnei Iver Lo Siten Michshol- before a blind man do not place a stumbling block". (Psak of Dayan Yisroel Yaakov Fischer quoted in Sefer Hilchos Ma'aser Kesofim.)
2) One may use Ma'aser money to pay the cover charge for a "Dinner" or a "Melava Malka" or other function which is organized to benefit a Tzedaka organization.
However, the cost of the actual portion should not be paid with Ma'aser; e.g. if a reservation to the dinner cost $180 and you would pay in a restaurant for a similar portion of food $20, you may pay $160 toward your dinner reservation from Ma'aser money. (Psak of Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky Zatzal in Emes L'Yaakov Y"D Siman 249)
Halachos for Thursday, June 12, 2014
1) One may give Ma'aser money to an organization that organizes Torah and Hashkafa Shiurim, and thus facilitates Torah learning.(Shu"t Bais Dino Shel Shlomo Y"D Siman 1)
Similarly, one may use Ma'aser to pay for Torah, Hashkafa or Mussar shiurim for women, even though women are not obligated in Torah study, it is still a Mitzvah for women to occupy themselves with subjects of Mussar, fear of heaven, becoming closer to Hashem, as well as the many Torah topics that pertain to them.(Psak of Rav Asher Weiss Shlita, quoted in Hilchos Ma'aser Kesafim)
Ma'aser money may be used to support organizations that provide emergency first-aid, such as "Hatzalah" (Psak of Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky Zatzal in Emes L'Yaakov Y"D Siman 249)
It is a great Mitzvah to use Ma'aser money for "Pidyon Shevuyim- obtaining the release of prisoners". ( (Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah Siman 252:1. See also Shu"t Bais Dino Shel Shlomo Y"D Siman 1)
2) According to some Poskim, it is permitted to use Ma'aser money to support non-Jewish charities (e.g. charities whose mission it is to research and develop medical cures etc.) (Psak of Rav Moshe Feinstein Zatzal quoted in Am HaTorah second Edition Choveres 11. Also opinion of Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky Zatzal in Emes L'Yaakov Y"D Siman 251. However, Rav Yaakov writes that even if halachically it is permitted, it is still best to refrain from doing so. Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal maintained that if it is an organization that can benefit Shomrei Torah U'Mitzvos (as is the case with medical research) then L'Chatchilah you can support them with Ma'aser money)
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh, June 13, 2014
Double Portion L'Kavod Shabbos Kodesh
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) Ma'aser money may be used to support "Kiruv" organizations whose mission it is to help our non religious brothers and sisters find their way back to our father in heaven. (Bais Dino Shel Shlomo. Dayan Yisroel Yaakov Fisher Zatzal even allowed using Ma'aser money to pay for "Kiruv" courses.)
Ma'aser money should not be given to charity organizations run by non religious Jews. (Psak of Rav Shmuel Auerbach Shlita)
2) A yeshiva or school that you or your children attended doesn't have halachic precedence for your Ma'aser dollars over a different school or Tzedaka. However, due to the Hakoras Hatov (appreciation) due the school, you should indeed financially support them over a different school. (Psak of Rav Asher Weiss Shlita)
Halachos for Shabbos Kodesh
1) There are too many references in Chazal and the Poskim regarding the importance of giving Ma'aser, and to quote them all would be too difficult.
However, to end our review of this topic on a powerful note, I will quote a small sampling of their holy words regarding the "power" of Ma'aser:
2) Properly separating and giving Ma'aser causes a person to become wealthy(Talmud Shabbos 119b. See also Rabbeinu Yonah's commentary to Pirkei Avos Perek 3 Mishna 13)
Although it is prohibited to "test" Hashem, there is an exception when it comes to Ma'aser, as the Posuk (Malachi 3:10) states "V'Chanuni Na B'Zos amar Hashem- Test me with this, said Hashem" (see Malbim's explanation this Posuk. See also Me'iri to Taanis 9a. See Shulchan Aruch Y"D Siman 247:4 that this exception is only for Ma'aser and not all Tzedaka. Rabbeinu Bachya in the introduction to Parshas Ki Savo disagrees, and maintains that one may test Hashem with all Tzedaka)
In the merit of properly giving Ma'aser, a person's prayers will be answered (Mateh Moshe Vol. 2 Ma'alas Tzedaka Chapter 8 based on the Midrash)
Properly giving Ma'aser can help save a person from sicknesses (The Steipler Zatzal based on Midrash Bamidbar Parsha 9 Siman 671)
Properly separating Ma'aser can prevent miscarriages (Chazon Ish, story quoted in Sefer Maaseh Ish Vol. 1 Page 144. This is also the advice that Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg Zatzal gave to people who have a tendency to miscarry, and it has worked on countless occasions.)
TAM V'NISHLAM HILCHOS MA'ASER KESAFIM.