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Using Maaser Kesafim for Gala Dinner

David SperlingCheshvan 20, 5774
455
Question
Hello, Am I allowed to use a portion of my maaser kesafim towards a Gala Dinner Event? This is a fundraising event for a nonprofit Jewish organization in Israel, so I thought it would be okay. However, I am also deriving some personal enjoyment by attending the event/dinner. Can you help to clarify? Thanks!
Answer
Shalom, Thank you for your question. Questions about giving charity are always welcome – may we all merit to fulfill this wonderful mitzvah with greater strength and joy! I assume that the organization you are referring to is itself a charitable cause. It certainly would be a question if one could use maser kesafim and other charity monies for a cause that itself was not a charity – even if it was a good one, such as an art museum. However if the cause is a charity one, then it is a great mitzvah to donate to them money, and the question that remains is only whether the personal enjoyment you get from the evening (the food and entertainment etc) should be included as a maser kesafim donation. In the work Emet L'Yaakov (by Rav Y. Kaminetzky zt"l – Yoreh Deah 249) it says that one should deduct the amount you would pay for such a meal from the total donation, and only consider the remaining sum as charity. This may not necessarily be the same amount that the organizers paid for the meal, which may have been more or less, but the amount you would be willing to pay for such an evening. So, if you paid $200 say for a ticket to the Gala Dinner, and for such a meal and entertainment you would expect to pay around $50 if it wasn't a charity event and you were to go out for such an evening, you should consider only $150 as the charitable gift which may be paid for with maser kesafim monies. Blessings.
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