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  • Family and Society

Giving Maaser

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Rabbi Jonathan Blass

14 Shevat 5763
Question
I wanted to ask a question regarding giving Tzdaka. I know that one is suppose to give 10% of his income to Tzdaka, but what if the person himself is having financial difficulties. My question is, how much are we supposed to pay to Tzdaka? At the moment we pay about 200 Shekels a month to Tzdaka which I know is not Maaser. However, my husband feels that this is too much given our financial circumstances. I am not sure whether this is enough, and this causes some "Shalom Bayit" problems. Another question: if we have a particularly difficult month, for example our car needed a new motor which cost 8500 Shekels and we paid it off over 3 months. So do we give the same amount of Tzdaka for that time, or can we give less those 3 months? Lastly, if I make some extra money on the side, do I have to give 10% of that amount to Tzdaka, or would I add it to my account and only if I am not in minus, then take 10%?
Answer
Giving 10% of one’s income to Tzedaka according to many Poskim is only a minhag (Maharam MiRotenburg Prague 74) and according to others it is a rabbinical commandment. Since there are many poskim who say the 10% should be calculated after necessary household expenses are deducted (among them the Shulchan Aruch himself in Shut Avkat Rachel 3), their opinion should be accepted Rabbi Ovadia Yosef Shut Y’Chave Daat 3, 76; Shut Tzitz Eliezer 10, 6). Also expenses on your children over the age of six may be considered Tzedaka. Your husband is, therefore, correct and you should lower the amount of tzedaka that your family is giving until you attain greater prosperity.
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