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  • Family and Society
  • Ma'asser - Tithing

Tzedaka

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Rabbi Elchanan Lewis

24 Tammuz 5765
Question
I have a small amount of money collected as my 10% of my ’income’ i.e from babysitting jobs, and from gifts of money, but I am not sure where to give this Tzedaka. I know that giving to a family member comes first, and my mother is having financial difficulties at the moment. I am not sure if I am supposed to give it to her, as a) I do not know what classifies someone ’needy’ enough to be given Tzedaka b) She may use the money on me, and my siblings... i.e buying food for us. I am not sure what to do. And if I do not give it to her - I am not sure who I should give it to.
Answer
The ten percent of Ma'aser is best if given to a poor person though can also be given to other good purposes. Poor for that mater is one who can't support himself and family to the minimal normal standard of living. (I agree it's not always easy to define) One should give the Ma'aser to support relatives before other people; parents are included in the list of relatives. In your case if your mother is struggling financially you can give her the bulk of the money and leave some for real needy poor people if your mother is not needy to that level.
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