Charity

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It is a positive mitzvah to give tzedaka (Heb. צדקה; tran. charity) to help out the poor people of Israel[1] according to one’s ability.[2] One who hardens his heart and doesn't give violates a Torah commandment.[3]

Contents

General Guidelines

Who is Obligated to Give?

  1. The mitzvah of tzedaka applies to men and women equally.[4]
  2. Children should be trained to give tzedaka from the age of chinuch, which is around 5 or 6, if he has his own money.[5]
  3. Someone who is poor nonetheless has an obligation to give a minimal amount of tzedaka, even if he is collecting tzedaka.[6]
  4. A poor person who doesn't have much shouldn't feel bad that he can't give much, because his small amount is like a wealthy person who gives a lot.[7]

Bracha

  1. There is no bracha recited for performing the mitzvah of Tzedaka. See the footnote for different reasons suggested.[8]

Fulfilling a Mental Determination to Give

  1. Many opinions hold that if one decided to give charity mentally without expressing it verbally, one should fulfill that decision.[9]
  2. If a person wrote a check for tzedaka he must carry through with his decision and give it to tzedaka.[10]
  3. If one verbalizes this commitment, one must make good on it immediately to not violate the command "בל תאחר / do not delay" [11]. If no poor are available, one must set it aside until he finds poor people.[12].

How to Give

  1. One should be very careful not to raise his voice against or embarrass a poor person.[13]
  2. If one gives tzedaka while expressing a begrudging face one doesn't get any mitzvah even if he gave a very large sum of money. Rather, one is obligated to give him with a nice expression, happiness, empathy for his plight, and with words of encouragement.[14]
  3. The Rambam[15] and other poskim[16] list 8 levels of tzedaka:
    1. The most ideal way to give tzedaka is to give him a job or loan or present before the poor falters so that he won't become poor.
    2. The next level is to give anonymously so that the donor doesn't know he's giving to and the poor doesn't know who gave it. This can be accomplished with a communal tzedaka box that is administered by someone trustworthy.
    3. The next level is to give so that the poor person doesn't know who he received from even though the donor knows to whom he gave it.
    4. The next level is to give so that the donor doesn't know who he gave to even though the poor person who gave it.
    5. The next level is to give before the poor person asks.
    6. The next level is to give the proper amount.
    7. The next level is to give with a happy face.
    8. The next level is to give even though one is internally sad but doesn't express it. If a person expresses that he is giving begrudgingly he doesn't get any mitzvah and in fact it is a sin.[17]
  4. One who gives Tzedaka should do it from the best of his property. If one buys a place of prayer, it should be nicer than his house. One who feeds a poor person should give him from the best things on his table. One who gives clothing to someone who doesn't have should give him from the nicest of his clothing.[18]

Giving on Numerous Occassions

  1. It is better to give a lot of poor people a little money, then to give one poor person a lot of money.[19]

Discovered Recipient was Fraud

  1. There is doubt whether it counts as Tzedaka if you give Tzedaka to someone who is a fraud. Therefore, one must attempt to verify whether the person is poor before one gives[20].

Accepting Honor for Tzedaka

  1. A person shouldn't accept honor by virtue of the Tzedaka that he gives.[21]
  2. It is permitted and even recommended for the donor to get recognition for his donation by having his name written on it.[22]

Tzedaka Pledges

  1. Saying that this dollar or any sum of money is tzedaka is binding and that money is tzedaka.[23] Similarly, if someone says that I am going to give tzedaka it is a binding vow.[24]
  2. One should always say that one is accepting the tzedaka bli neder, without a vow, so that one doesn't accidentally forget and be liable in a serious sin.[25] Also, if one pledges tzedaka to poor people he must give it immediately and if he delays he violations a prohibition. Therefore, he should stipulate that he plans to give it out to poor people when he sees fit.[26]
  3. If someone pledged tzedaka to give to the gabbay, he isn't in violation of any prohibition for delaying until the gabbay demands that it be paid. However, if the gabbay doesn't know about his pledge he must make him aware of it and fulfill his pledge.[27]

Time for Tzedaka

Night

  1. There is no specific time for Tzedaka and even though some kabbalists say that one shouldn't give it at night, the consensus is that it is totally acceptable to give tzedaka at night.[28]

Davening

  1. It is a pious practice to give tzedaka before davening.[29]
  2. When a person is saying birchot kriyat shema or shema and a poor person asks for tzedaka, he shouldn't interrupt to give him, yet the minhag is to be lenient even for birchot kriyat shema to give the tzedaka. However, if he's in the middle of pesukei dzimra he is exempt but can give the tzedaka if he wants to.[30]
  3. Someone collecting tzedaka may not do so in the middle of Chazarat Hashatz or Kiryat Hatorah since it disturbs the concentration of those who are davening and listening to Chazarat Hashatz or Kriyat Hatorah.[31]

Before Death

  1. If someone in their last will and testament specified giving tzedaka and then after they pass away a relative becomes poor the money can't be given specifically to that relative since the money belongs to all of the poor people of the city.[32]
  2. It is permitted to give more than 20% of one's wealth to tzedaka in one's last will and testament.[33] Some say that one shouldn't give away more than a third of one's money to tzedaka in the will.[34] Others disagree as long as one leave a significant amount to each child as inheritance.[35]

Tzedaka before Pesach

  1. See Maot Chitim

Prohibitions of Tzedaka

Giving with a Negative Attitude

  1. Giving tzedaka with a sour attitude that it is a loss to oneself is forbidden.[36]

Not Giving

  1. There is a biblical prohibition to harden your heart and not give tzedaka.[37]There is a prohibition of turning away one’s eyes from a poor person’s request.[38]
  2. There is a dispute if this prohibition of turning away one’s eyes from the poor applies only if one sees the poor person or even if one doesn’t see the poor person but knows that he is in need.[39] Most poskim hold that there is no prohibition unless the poor person is in one’s presence.[40]
  3. If someone can afford to give ten percent to tzedaka and doesn’t give a poor person asking is in violation of לא תאמץ לבבך and לא תקפץ ידך.[41] Some say that one only violates those prohibitions if they see a poor person asking for tzedaka.[42]

Whom To Give To

Definition of Poor

  1. Someone who is lacking basic needs for him or herself or their family according to their community is considered poor in order to collect tzedaka.[43]

Employed

  1. Someone who has a steady salary which covers his expenses is not poor and cannot take tzedaka even if he doesn't have any savings.[44]
  2. Someone who doesn't have a steady salary to cover his expenses is considered poor.[45]

Unemployed

  1. Someone unemployed is considered poor.[46]
  2. Someone unemployed and has savings which when invested wouldn't be enough to support him doesn't need to wait until the savings run out before he takes tzedaka, since he doesn't have a steady income from a job or from his investments is considered poor.[47]
  3. Someone who can work and refuses and isn't learning Torah full time should not receive tzedaka. In practice someone requesting tzedaka can't know and shouldn't judge if someone unemployed isn't able to work because of a sickness or the like and therefore must give out of doubt.[48]

Selling Property or Utensils or Savings Before Taking

  1. A poor person doesn't need to sell his household utensils that he uses for eating or sleeping. For example, he doesn't have to sell his dishes, clothing, or beds of good quality to purchase cheaper ones. Items that aren't used for direct bodily needs, such as utensils to prepare food, he should sell them and get cheaper ones before taking tzedaka.[49]
  2. Someone who has money put away for his children's weddings, but otherwise is not making a steady income can take tzedaka and doesn't have to use that savings first.[50]

Non-Jews

  1. The community should give non-Jews food and clothing just like they give to Jews, because of "Darchei Shalom," promoting positive relations with non-Jews.[51]

Priorities Greater than Tzedaka

  1. From the greatest mitzvah one can do with money to the least the hierarchy is to give for:
    1. Talmud Torah or poor sick people[52]
    2. Building the shul[53]
    3. Hachnasat Kallah, helping the poor make a wedding for their daughter.[54]
    4. General tzedaka to poor people[55]

Tzedaka Priorities

  1. The order of priorities where one should allocate one's tzedaka is as follows from the highest priority to lowest priority:
    1. A poor relative,[56]
      1. A poor parent,
      2. A poor child,[57]
      3. A poor paternal brother or sister,
      4. A poor maternal brother or sister,[58]
    2. A poor neighbor or poor friend who lives in the city,[59]
    3. Other poor people of his city or his wife's relatives,[60]
    4. Poor people of Yerushalayim,[61]
    5. Poor people of Israel,[62]
    6. Poor people outside Israel.[63]
  2. A public charity collector must not give precedence to his relatives.[64]

Proportions for Each Priority Level

  1. When giving to a higher level priority strictly speaking one can give all of one’s tzedaka to that level, however, the poskim recommend that it is not proper to give all of one’s tzedaka to one’s relatives but divide some of it to others.[65]
  2. If a lower priority level needs tzedaka more than the higher priority level needs it, they have precedence over the lower priority level.[66] Some disagree.[67]

Breaking a Tie

  1. If two people in the same priority level[68] are coming to collect tzedaka and there isn't enough tzedaka for both of them, the follow ordering system is applied: Talmud Chacham, Kohen, Levi, Yisrael, Chalal, Mamzer, and then Ger.[69]

Children

  1. It is called "Tzedaka" to give money to one's children above 6 years of age (one is not obligated to support them beyond that age), in order to support one's sons for Torah learning or guide one's daughters in a proper path, and to give money to a father who can't support himself. Indeed, they take precedence over other people entitled to receive Tzedaka. [70]

Torah Scholars

  1. One must be especially careful to give to a poor Torah scholar. If he doesn't want to receive it, one should try to help him make money in an honorable way or give him money to do business.[71].

Giving to Those Collecting in Shul

  1. The halacha is that it is forbidden to refuse a poor person’s request for tzedaka. Even though when they’re collecting from many people it isn’t necessary to give them a large donation, one should still give them something.[72] Some defend the practice of those who don’t give someone collecting tzedaka in shul.[73]
  2. With respect to this prohibition of returning a poor person empty handed it is sufficient to give them any amount even if it is less than a pruta.[74]
  3. If he doesn’t have anything to give the poor person he should nonetheless try to appease the poor person, empathize with his troubles, and express regret for not having anything to give.[75]

Checking Certificates of the Poor

  1. If someone has a certificate signed by a rabbi that he is entitled to collect tzedaka you should give him tzedaka and not worry that it is possibly forged.[76]
  2. Before giving tzedaka, besides food,[77] you need to check that the poor person is honest and really needs the money.[78]
  3. Some hold that obligation to investigate a poor person applies to communal charity funds, but if an individual is requested for tzedaka he shouldn't check if the poor person is honest before giving to him.[79] Some seem to disagree that the concept of checking out the poor person applies both to the communal funds and the individual giving to the poor.[80]
  4. It is forbidden to institute that a poor person can't collect from the community by knocking on doors or in the shuls because the institution of having a communal fund is supposed to help the poor but not remove their right to request individuals for tzedaka. Also, it would be a terrible thing if the individuals aren't involved in giving out tzedaka at all.[81]
  5. If it turned out that someone gave tzedaka to someone who wasn't honestly a poor person it is questionable if one fulfilled any mitzvah of tzedaka.[82]
  6. A person doesn’t have to lend another Jew money unless they know that they’re trustworthy.[83]

How Much Should a Person Give?

  1. The standard amount of tzedaka reccomended by the Rabbis is to give 10% of one's income. One who gives more up to 20% is considered very generous and someone who gives less than 10% is not fulfilling the mitzvah of tzedaka in the ideal way, though he still fulfills a basic mitzvah as long as he gives 1/3 of a shekel.[84]

Third of a Shekel

  1. A minimal amount of tzedaka that one must give annually is a third of a shekel.[85]
  2. Today, a third of a shekel is equivalent to 4.67 grams of silver, which is roughly $3.75.[86]
  3. If someone gives less than a third of a shekel doesn't fulfill his mitzvah of tzedakah at all.[87]

Less than a Pruta

  1. There is a mitzvah tzedaka even if one gives less than a pruta each time as long as it adds up over time to minimally a third of a shekel a year. A pruta is 1/40 of a gram of silver, so roughly 2 cents.[88]

Maaser Kesafim

  1. There is a praiseworthy minhag to give a tenth of one’s income in charity every year. Before accepting this minhag one should stipulate that one will be able to use the money set aside for Maaser could be used for Mitzvot. [89]
  2. The first year, one takes 1/10th of his principle. From then on, one takes 1/10th of the total of one's income.[90]

Someone Who Can't Afford to Give Maaser

  1. If someone doesn’t make enough to support his family expenses is exempt from maaser.[91]
  2. If one has financial difficulty, for Sephardim, one should stipulate from the beginning that one will only give Maaser after having subtracted all of one’s expenses from one’s incomes.[92]

Obligation or Minhag

  1. Most poskim hold that maaser kesafim is a personal[93] minhag.[94]
  2. If you took it upon yourself once thinking that you’re going to continue or do it three times even if you didn’t think about it, then you have an obligation to continue to do it. However, if you did not you can do it with stipulating that it is bli neder so that it isn’t binding upon oneself in the future.[95]

Someone Receiving Money to Learn

  1. If a father-in-law is supporting a son-in-law to learn and if the son-in-law gives maaser the father-in-law will need to give more support to the son-in-law, the son-in-law should not give maaser.[96]

Supporting Children

  1. Many poskim hold that that as long as one legally needs to support one’s children one can not deduct those expenses from one’s maaser.[97]
  2. Most poskim hold that supporting grandchildren can be counted as tzedaka.[98]

Supporting Someone to Learn in Kollel

  1. Many poskim hold that if someone specified that he will give maaser for mitzvot or took upon himself maaser kefasim bli neder, he can give it to his son or son-in-law to learn Torah.[99]
  2. The stipend that a kollel gives its members who learn full time is considered tzedaka.[100]
  3. If a kollel member is receiving a stipend he can still take money for tzedaka if he doesn’t have enough for his and his family’s needs.[101]
  4. If someone is giving his son or son-in-law money to learn Torah he doesn’t need to tell him that it is maaser money.[102]
  5. Someone who has enough from other parnasa shouldn’t take a stipend for learning in a kollel. If he wants to in order to help him learn better he can but should stipulate bli neder that he’s going to give the money he gets from the stipend to tzedaka.[103]

Supporting Parents

  1. A person whose parents are poor has an obligation to support them. If he can support them not using maaser kesafim he should do so, if not he may use maaser kesafim money for that.[104]

Teaching One’s Children

  1. Can paying to teach your son talmud count towards maaser? There is a major dispute and many are strict.[105]
  2. For a daughter's tuition some say that you can deduct the amount that is spent on her Jewish education.[106] Others disagree.[107]

Setting Aside Maaser or Giving in Advance

  1. Some say that one should set aside maaser even if there’s no poor people present, while others argue.[108]
  2. It is permitted to give tzedaka before making money and stipulate that it will count it as maaser when one makes money.[109]

What to do with the Ma'aser money?

  1. This money should go to the poor, not for some other purpose, e.g. giving candles to a shul [110].
  2. If one had the opportunity to help a poor bride and groom get married or to buy Sefarim to learn and lend to others to learn, if he couldn't otherwise do those Mitzvos with his own money, without the Ma'aser money, he can use the Ma'aser money for these purposes.[111].
  3. However, if one buys books with Ma'aser money, one must be careful to loan them to others unless one is using them (in which case one's use takes precedence). He should also be careful to write on them "from Ma'aser money", so that his children later don't take possession of them [112].

Sources of Income

Gross Income

  1. Generally all income is included in one's income for maaser kesafim. This includes salary, capital gains,[113] gifts, rent from tenants,[114] and social security benefits.[115] For deductions such as for business expenses see below #Deductions.
  2. Salary is included in maaser whether it is from a consistent contracted job or a one time freelancing service.[116]

Gifts

  1. Some say that there's no minhag to give maaser for non-cash presents.[117]
  2. Someone who gets a real estate as an inheritance or present does not need to give maaser on it.[118]
  3. Gift cards to a specific store aren't included in income for maaser. However, a prepaid debit card that can be used at any store is considered income and maaser should be given for its value.[119]

Capital Gains

  1. A person should give maaser upon capital gains when the stock or another asset is sold and profits are realized.[120]

Property Gains

  1. Some say that if one realized a capital gain from real estate, one can deduct the part of the increase that is attributed to inflation. For this inflation should be calculated according to the price of basic foods.[121]
  2. If someone received as a gift a property to live, such as sometimes given as a dowry, they do not have to give maaser of its value. However, if one received an extra property for investments should give maaser of its value.[122]
  3. If someone is given a house to live in rent free or someone pays his rent for him, he does not need to give maaser on that money.[123]

Dowry

  1. A person who receives a cash dowry should give maaser for the full amount of the dowry even if it comes from money that the father-in-law already took maaser from.[124]

Inheritance

  1. A person who receives cash in an inheritance needs to give maaser on the amount of the inheritance. If one receives a property one doesn't need to give maaser maaser for its value.[125]

Stolen Cash Returned

Compensation for Damages or Theft

  1. Compensation for physical damages isn't subject to maaser but it is good to use maaser of that money for mitzvot.[126]
  2. If someone receives money from an insurance company for a theft at one's business one not need to give maaser for that money since it is just to cover a loss.[127]
  3. If someone retrieves money that was stolen from him he should give maaser for it unless he knew all along that he was going to get it back in which case he doesn't need to give maaser.[128]

Deductions

Losses or Theft

  1. If someone losses money by losing it or theft it can be deducted from one's earnings of the year before calculating maaser.[129]

Business Expenses

  1. Business expenses or losses are deducted from one's gross revenue. At the end of the year one should calculate total gain and losses from all his businesses and take a tenth of the net gain.[130]
  2. Business expenses include: Buying merchandise, paying employees, travel expenses, clothing or means of transportation used exclusively for work, and additional costs of food while traveling for business.[131]
  3. If a mother works, she can deduct the expense of childcare from the salary she makes before calculating maaser because it is considered like a business expense.[132]

Household Expenses

  1. Most poskim hold that you do not deduct living expenses before calculating 1/10th of one's income to be given as maaser.[133]
  2. If he can’t afford to give maaser kesafim after his household expenses, he is not obligated to give the full amount of maaser.[134]

Insurance

  1. If someone's employer pays for his medical insurance he does not need to give maaser on the amount of money that his employer paid for his insurance.[135]

Taxes

  1. Income tax is deducted before taking off maaser since it is like one didn't ever earn that money. There is a dispute regarding other taxes if they can be deducted from maaser.[136]

More than 20%

  1. Generally it is forbidden to give more than a fifth of one's income so that one doesn't become poor except before one dies when that isn't a concern.[137]
  2. If someone can afford giving 20% of their income to tzedaka and there is a poor person who needs that money, some say that there is an obligation to give them,[138] while many others hold that there is no obligation but it is certainly an act of piety.[139]
  3. If someone can afford to give a poor person whatever he is lacking he should do so. If that would be in excess of 20% of his money, he does not have to give it, but if he could afford it comfortably it would be a pious act to do so.[140]
  4. Some hold it is an obligation to give more than 20% if you can afford it and there are poor people who need it,[141] some hold that it is permitted but not obligatory.[142], and some that it is forbidden.[143]
  5. Most poskim hold that someone very wealthy can give more than 20%.[144]
  6. Some hold that it is permitted to give more than 20% of one's wealth if one has a steady income.[145]

How Much to Give Each Poor Person

Whatever He Needs

  1. The maximal obligation of tzedaka is to provide the poor with whatever he needs. Many poskim hold that this is a communal obligation. If an individual is requested he is allowed to ask the congregation on his behalf to fill all of his needs.[146]

Capital to Subsist

  1. A poor person is allowed to collect enough tzedaka in order to be able to start a business in order to have a steady income. Someone who is sick or can't work for another reason can collect enough tzedaka in order to invest that capital in a CD and live off the interest.[147] For example, a widow with young children to take care of, since she is not in a position to work, may collect a substantial amount in order to support herself.[148]

Unexpected Expenses

  1. A person who has a steady income to support themselves and their family but unexpectedly has a large expense (e.g. medical or marriage of child) is considered poor with respect to that expense.[149]

Not Turning Away a Poor Person Empty-Handed

  1. One is forbidden to turn away a beggar empty-handed, even if one only gives him a very small amount of money.[150] If one doesn't have any money, one should comfort him with words.[151] Therefore, a should budget himself not to give out all of his tzedaka at once so that he has a little bit of tzedaka available throughout the year.[152]

Knocking on the Doors or in Shul

  1. The community should supply a poor person who asks in private the amount he is lacking with respect to his previous standard of living. However, to a poor person who is knocking on doors the community only needs to give him money for 2 meals and a place to stay.[153]
  2. An individual who is requested for tzedaka by someone poor, if the poor person is going around to many people to collect whether at their houses or in shul, an individual does not have to give more than a small amount that is less than the value of a meal.[154] In fact it is sufficient to give any amount that the poor person would consider to have some significance.[155]
  3. It is wrong to stop poor people from collecting by knocking at doors.[156]


From Who It Is Permitted to Take Tzedaka?

Married Women

  1. There are many factors that would allow collecting even a large donation today from married women today.[157]

From Non-Jews

  1. A non-Jew who volunteers to do mitzvot according to many opinions is rewarded. However, they may not observe mitzvot as an obligation because doing so is considered creating a new religion.[158]
  2. It is forbidden for a Jew to take tzedaka from a non-Jew in public. If he can't live without the tzedaka and can’t take it in private, he may take it even in public.[159]
  3. A non-Jewish leader or politician who sent a Jew money to be given as charity can be accepted but should be discreetly given to non-Jewish poor people and not to Jewish poor people.[160]
  4. If the leader gave specific instructions on what to do with the money, according to Ashkenazim one should follow the instructions.[161] According to Sephardim, they should give it to non-Jewish poor people.[162]
  5. If a non-Jew donates money to a shul we can accept it.[163]
  6. It is permitted to accept a gift from a non-Jew.[164]
  7. If he can subsist without charity from non-Jews he may not take the charity even in private.[165]

Redesignating Earmarked Tzedaka Funds

Communal Tzedaka

  1. It is permitted for the community as a whole to change how money fundraised as communal tzedaka should be spent. They can change it even for non-mitzvah purposes as long as it is for communal needs.[166] Others hold that it can’t be changed to be used for anything besides a mitzvah.[167] Lastly, some hold it can’t be changed at all to non-tzedaka needs.[168] The halacha follows the first opinion.[169]
  2. A gabbay appointed by a community is assumed to have the implicit authorization to change communal charity money to other communal needs.[170]
  3. It is permitted for a gabbay tzedaka to collect tzedaka by himself.[171]
  4. Charity funds can only be distributed by a group of three because it is similar to a bet din since they need to decide the needs of each poor person.[172] If they give each poor person an amount determined by a bet din it can be distributed by a individual gabbay.[173]

Shul Donations

  1. Money donated to a shul can be redesignated for another mitzvah.[174] Some hold that after people forgot who donated that item to the shul it is permitted to redesignate it for any purpose,[175] while others hold that is forbidden.[176]

Before Reaching the Gabbay

  1. Before it reaches the hands of the gabbay, some hold that it is only permitted to be borrowed for any purpose to be later repaid to tzedaka,[177] while others hold it is permitted to change the funds to be used for any mitzvah.[178].

After Reaching the Gabbay

  1. Once tzedaka money reaches the hands of the gabbay tzedaka it can not be repurposed[179] or even borrowed temporarily to be used for secular purposely and repaid to tzedaka.[180] Some hold it can be repurposed for another mitzvah,[181] while others disagree.[182]

Non-Jew’s Donation to Shul

  1. It is forbidden to redesignate the donation of a non-Jew to a shul. After people forgot the name of the person who donated the item to the shul it is permitted to redesignate it for another mitzvah.[183]

Tzedaka Box

  1. It is permitted to exchange one's coins or bills in a personal or communal tzedaka box, whether one wants to put in small coins and take out larger coins or bills, or to put in a large bill and take out small coins.[184] Nonetheless, the common custom is to leave extra for tzedaka when doing so.[185]

Communal Obligation of Charity Funds

  1. There is a communal obligation to establish a charity fund for all the poor people of the town.[186] Some communities have a food pantry or soup kitchen which serves the poor, but a community can choose not to have such a service and support the poor in other ways.[187]

Gabbay Tzedaka

  1. A community should establish a trustworthy gabbay to collect and distribute the communal tzedaka funds.[188]
  2. There is a mitzvah to stand up for someone going to do a mitzvah, such as someone collecting tzedaka. If they're being paid to do the mitzvah, there is a dispute if you don't need to stand for them. If they're doing it for a mitzvah and also being paid you should stand for them.[189]
  3. Even though there is a requirement that tzedaka can only be distributed by a bet din of 3 people,[190] today we don't require a bet din to distribute tzedaka money from a shul's tzedaka fund.[191]
  4. If someone is entrusted with tzedaka to distribute he can't pass it off to someone else to distribute. A gabbay tzedaka, however, can do so since it was given with the knowledge that the gabbay might appoint someone else to distribute the tzedaka.[192]
  5. A person can collect tzedaka on behalf of poor people even if there is already a gabbay tzedaka collecting.[193]

Earmarked Funds

  1. A community may not redistribute charity funds that were earmarked for a certain cause.[194]

Refraining from Taking Tzedaka

  1. A person should endeavor to refrain from taking charity and endure some hardship in order not to take charity. Chazal state that it is preferable to make your Shabbat meal like a weekday rather than take from charity. (See the Kavod Shabbat page for the practical laws about how a poor person should fulfill Kavod Shabbat.) Anyone who presses himself to live with difficulty without taking charity is blessed to one day have enough money to support others.[195]
  2. Someone who can't live without Tzedaka (e.g. an elderly person, sick person, or someone suffering) but is haughty and doesn't take, sins by not taking.[196]
  3. A person who doesn't need to take charity and nonetheless deceives people and takes won't die before he genuinely becomes poor.[197]
  4. It is forbidden to collect for luxuries.[198]

Statements of Chazal about Tzedaka

  1. Tzedaka is a trait that characterizes the descendants of Avrohom Avinu.[199]
  2. The Jewish religion isn't stable without charity.[200]
  3. The one who does Tzedaka [201] is better than all the Korbanos [202].
  4. Israel will only be redeemed through Tzedaka[203]
  5. No one ever becomes poor out of giving Tzedaka, and no bad thing nor damage comes from Tzedaka.[204]
  6. If one has mercy, Hashem will be merciful to him.[205]
  7. Hashem is close to the poor, so one must be careful to hear their cries.[206]
  8. A person should think: just as he davens to Hashem for a Parnassa / livelihood, and Hashem gives to him, so too should a person listen to the poor.[207]
  9. A person shouldn't say, "how can I diminish my money and give it to the poor", because he should know that the money doesn't belong to him, but is instead a deposit from Hashem in order to do His will.[208]
  10. Tzedaka pushes aside evil decrees and adds life.[209]
  11. One who convinces others to give is greater than the one who gives.[210].
  12. The reward for a Tzedaka collector is great; if the poor give him a hard time, he shouldn't be worried, for this increases his reward [211].
  13. One who gives charity in secret is greater than Moshe Rabbenu [212]
  14. One who gives even a peruta to the poor merits to receive the presence of God.[213]
  15. Whoever gives even a small coin to a poor man receives six blessings, but whoever speaks reassuringly to him receives eleven blessings.[214]
  16. If a person closes his eyes to avoid giving [any] charity, it is as if he committed idolatry.[215]

Testing Hashem

  1. The Gemara Tanit 9a explains that for maaser it is permitted to test Hashem that if you’re careful to give maaser Hashem will enrich you. There is a question whether this concept applies also to maaser kesafim or even to all forms of tzedaka.
  2. Many poskim hold that it is forbidden to give tzedaka in order to test Hashem that he make you wealthy, but it is permitted to test Hashem when giving maaser kesafim. On the other hand, some poskim hold that it is forbidden to test Hashem even for maaser kesafim.[216]
  3. If you hold that it is permitted Hashem for matters of tzedaka, why is that so?
    1. One understanding is that Hashem permitted testing Him for tzedaka because tzedaka is such a great mitzvah and so important to Him.[217]
    2. Some explain that it is permitted to test Him since He promised to enrich someone who gives tzedaka, so it isn’t a test of Hashem, it is merely revealing his promise.[218]
    3. Another explanation is that testing Hashem is problematic because if one’s test isn’t fulfilled one might question Him, but for tzedaka there is a certain protective power that it will not lead to questioning Him.[219]

Redeeming Captives

  1. It is a very great mitzvah to redeem a Jew in captivity.[220]
  2. Someone in captivity who doesn't want to be saved should be redeemed against his will.[221]
  3. If a person says he's giving money to tzedaka he doesn't mean to include redeeming captives and therefore it can't be redistributed without the consent of the people of the city.[222]
  4. Some say that the practice today is to redeem captives even for more than their worth.[223]
  5. A person can free himself from captivity even though it might mean that the others will be treated worse.[224]

Related Pages

  1. Matanot_LeEvyonim
  2. Month_of_Nissan#Maot_Chitim

Links

Sources

  1. Devarim 15:8, Rambam (Mitzvot Aseh 195), Chinuch 479, Cheredim (Aseh 5:23), Smag Asin 162, Smak 248
  2. Rambam (Matanot Aniyim 7:1), Tur and Shulchan Aruch YD 247:1, Levush 247:1, and Birkei Yosef 247:1
  3. See Devarim 15:7-11, Rambam Sefer HaMitzvot (Mitzvah Aseh #195)
  4. Sefer Hachinuch 479, Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser p. 27
  5. Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser p. 32
  6. Based on Gittin 7b, the Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 248:1 writes that even a poor person needs to give tzedaka. Shach 248:2 writes that this only refers to someone who has income to support himself but doesn't have capital to himself, however, someone who doesn't even have a steady income is completely exempt from tzedaka. However, the Nachlat Tzvi 248:1 disagrees and holds that every poor person needs to give a minimal amount of a third of a shekel. The poor person is not exempt from that; he is exempt from giving more tzedaka if he doesn't have an income. Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser p. 33 agrees. See Shevet Halevi 5:132:2 and Igrot Moshe YD 2:113 s.v. ach. B'orach Tzedaka ch. 3 fnt. 2 cites the Aruch Hashulchan and Derech Emunah who agree with the Nachlat Tzvi, while the Shevet Halevi 5:132:2 agrees with the Shach.
  7. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:2, Borach Tzedaka 3:1
  8. The Sh"t HaRashba 1:18 explains that there's no bracha for the mitzvah of tzadaka because it depends on the reciever and since it is possible that he receiver will not accept the money, chazal didn't establish a bracha for the mitzvah. The Aruch HaShulchan YD 240:2 explains that the reason there is no bracha for Tzadaka is because both Jews and non-Jews do this deed. Since the primary difference between a Jew and non-Jew who take such actions is the intent, that the Jew does it in order to fulfill a mitzvah and the non-Jew does it because its moral, for such an action one may not say "Asher Kideshanu" - we were commanded in this specific action.
  9. There's two opinions in Shulchan Aruch C”M 212:8 if a mental thought to make something hekdesh or tzedaka is binding. The Rama C”M 212:8 and Y"D 258:13 writes that the halacha is that it is binding. Yechave Daat 6:52 has a doubt about the opinion of Shulchan Aruch. On the one hand, since there are two opinions in S”A, it would seem that the halacha is like the second one, who in this case is lenient. But, on the other hand, the second opinion is quoted as yesh mi she'omer in singular, whereas the first is quoted in plural yesh omrim. Yalkut Yosef y"d 247-259:12 just quotes Shulchan Aruch but doesn't give a definitive ruling. In one article of DailyHalacha by Rabbi Mansour, he writes that we're lenient according to the opinion of the Daat Esh who says that everyone agrees that its not binding if the whole event was mental but there's a dispute if you said you'd give but didn't specify. However, the Yechave Daat 6:52 argues that this opinion is not implied by Shulchan Aruch. However, in another article Rabbi Mansour writes that we're machmir that it is binding according to the Or Letzion. Tosfot Harosh a"z 34a, Tosfot Rabbenu Elchanan, Rosh Tanit all write that making a metal decision to give to tzedaka is binding.
  10. Chukei Chaim YD 3:56 raises the possibility that an action to give tzedaka is more significant than just thinking about giving tzedaka and should be fulfilled. Mishnat Hamishpat p. 369 quotes the Mayim Kedoshim, Olot Shlomo Menachot 55, and Binyan Olam EH 2 who say this. He concludes that if someone wrote a check to tzedaka he needs to actually give it to tzedaka.
  11. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:9
  12. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:9
  13. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:8
  14. The Rambam (Matanot Laniyim 10:4) writes that a person should not give tzedaka with a sour face and if he does he loses his mitzvah. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 249:3 and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:7 codify this. Radvaz sources it in Bava Batra 9b that a person is rewarded for cheering up a poor person. The Gra cites the source for this Rambam in the pasuk Devarim 15:10. The Sefer Hachinuch 479 seems to adopt the same approach that the mitzvah of tzedaka is to give it with happiness and giving in a begrudging manner isn't a mitzvah. Tzafnat Pane'ach says that the source for the Rambam is Chagiga 5a. Chagiga 5a shows that it is better not to give tzedaka than to give and embarrass the poor person. Avot Drebbe Natan ch. 13 writes that if a person gives someone a lot of presents with his face looking towards the ground it is like he gave him nothing.
  15. Matanot Aniyim 10:7-14
  16. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 249:6-13, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:12
  17. Shach 249:9, Gra 249:16, Badei Hashulchan 249:52
  18. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 248:8, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:5
  19. Rambam Peirush Hamishnayot Avot 3:15
  20. http://www.ravaviner.com/2010/02/giving-tzedakah-to-beggars.html
  21. Smag (Asin 162), Meiri b"b 10b, Rama Y.D. 249:13, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:13
  22. Rashba (responsa 581), Rama Y.D. 249:13, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:13. The Rashba shows that it is a good thing to recognize those who donate to charity from the Midrash Rut 5:6. The Midrash says that if Reuven would have known that the Torah would have recorded that he tried to save Yosef he would have carried on his shoulders and brought him home. Also, if Aharon would have known that the story of him greeting Moshe happily when he was accepted to be the leader of Israel he would have went to greet him with musical instruments. Lastly, if Boaz would have known that the Navi would have written about him that he gave Rut some roasted grain he would have instead given her fatten calves. The Rashba concludes that the reason that the Torah records these stories is to recognize the good deeds each person did so we can learn from them. So too we can and should recognize those who donor to tzedaka for them to be able to remember and also to encourage others.
  23. Tosfot Bava Kama 36b s.v. yad, Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 258:1
  24. Rosh Hashana 6a, Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 257:3
  25. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 257:4
  26. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 257:3
  27. Rama Y.D. 257:3
  28. Some learned from the Arizal that he didn't give tzedaka at night because nighttime is a time of judgement (see Shaar Kavanot Mincha Drush 2). However, the Chida in Petach Ayanim Bava Kama 16b rejects that positions and maintains that it is certainly a mitzvah to give tzedaka at night. Even the Yerushalmi Peah 8 which implies that one shouldn't give at night isn't binding as the halacha. Rav Chaim Palagi Haggadah p. 130 discusses this topic.
  29. Rambam (Matanot Aniyim 10:15), Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 249:14
  30. Teshuvot Vehanhagot 3:287
  31. Pri Megadim M"Z 566:3, Mishna Brurah 92:36
  32. Rama YD 251:5 writes that before the money gets to the gabbay it can be reapportioned to the relative only if the relative was poor at the time when the person passed away. Panim Meirot 1:103 implies otherwise as he writes that if the money didn't yet go into the hands of the gabbay it can be given to the relative.
  33. Ketubot 67b, Rama Y.D. 249:1
  34. Rabbi Akiva Eiger 249:1 citing the Shiltot, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:4
  35. Igrot Moshe CM 2:50:2 writes that it is permitted to give away as much as one wants to in the last will and testament besides a significant sum that one leaves to each child so that one doesn't nullify the Torah's mitzvah of inheritance. In 1966 he wrote that giving 1000 per child is considered significant. However, in the previous teshuva, CM 2:49, written in 1979, he says that leaving 20% of the estate to the inheritors is considered a significant amount.
  36. Ramban (Shichachat Halavin n. 17) writes based on Devarim 15:10 that it is a biblical prohibition to give with the feeling that it is a loss, rather one should believe that it is a rewarded and beneficial activity. This is also the opinion of the Bahag (Lavin with Malkot n. 192) and Smak (Mitzvah 21). Gra 249:6 and Badei Hashulchan (Biurim 247 p. 1) quote this as well. However, Smag (Lavin 289) understands this prohibition of Devarim 15:10 to be referring to someone who gives with a stingy eye. Ahavat Tzedaka 1:3:2 explains that while for the Ramban the mitzvah depends on a person's mindset between him and himself (Ben Adam Lasmo), for the Smag it is a mitzvah of how he relates to the poor person (Ben Adam Lechevero). Rabbenu Yona (Shaarei Teshuva 3:35-6) seems to understand Devarim 15:10 לא ירע לבבך like the Smag, but Devarim 15:7 לא תאמץ את לבבך like the Ramban understood לא ירע לבבך.
  37. Devarim 15:7, Sefer Hachinuch 478, Yereyim 202, Rambam (Sefer Hamitzvot Lavin 232), Smag 289
  38. Rambam (Matanot Laniyim 7:2), Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 247:1
  39. Sefer Hamitzvot of Rambam (Lavin 232) implies that there’s a prohibition even if you just know about a poor person. Similarly, Rishon Letzion 247:1 prohibition applies even if you just know about the poor person even if you don’t see him. Beer Moshe 4:92, Shevet Halevi 5:131, and Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser p. 12 agree.
    • However, Rashba Shevuot 25a s.v. iylayma says that there’s only a mitzvah (and seemingly only a prohibition) if the poor person asks you. He also says that the mitzvah is only to give him his immediate needs like enough money for food and board for that day. Additionally, Mahari Kurkos (Matanot Aniyim 7:2) only asur if you see the poor person ask for money and not just if you know about his needs. Teshuvot Vehanhagot 3:287 s.v. vheneh also implies this.
    • B’orach Tzedaka 1:3 rules like the Mahari Kurkos that there’s only a prohibition if the poor person is in front of you. Mishnat Hamishpat p. 7 agrees. He quotes this from the Heichlei Shen 26, Yafeh Lelev 257:6, and Machaneh Efraim (Tzedaka ch. 1). Ateret Paz YD 2:10 quotes the Mahari Asad 2:118 who agrees.
    • B’orach Tzedaka 1:7 writes that there's no prohibition of not answering a letter asking for tzedaka. In the footnote he quotes this from Rav Elyashiv. Also, B’orach Tzedaka 1:8 writes that there's no prohibition not giving a gabbay tzedaka and quotes it from Rav Elyashiv, Rav Chaim Kanievsky, and Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach unlike the Kol Eliyahu 2:19. Borach Tzedaka p. 404 quotes Rav Chaim Kanievsky that there's no prohibition if there is an agent asking on behalf of the poor person or a gabbay tzedaka. Rav Yakov Kamenetsky quoted in Bmechitzat Rabbenu p. 163 agreed. Orach Tzedaka p. 17 quotes Rav Elyashiv and Alenu Lshabe'ach v. 3 p. 710 that there's no prohibition from the torah with a letter unless the poor person is in front of you. All of these rulings are in line with the Rashba and not the Rishon Letzion.
    • Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser p. 12 rules like the Rishon Letzion that knowledge is enough to violate the prohibition biblically. Also, Beer Moshe 4:92 holds that there is a biblical obligation to give when requested for tzedaka through a letter.
  40. Chafetz Chaim (Ahavat Chesed 2:19:4 in fnt. s.v. uma)
  41. Mahari Kurkus (Matanot Aniyim 7:2), Rashba Shevuot 25a. However, the Rishon Letzion 247:1 holds like the Rambam (Sefer Hamitzvot Lavin 232) that the prohibitions apply even if one just knows about the poor person.
  42. Aruch Hashulchan 251:7 explains that someone who just has a small amount of bread and water and nothing else is considered someone who is poor and doesn't have to give tzedaka. It doesn't include any nicer foods or luxuries. Rav Elyashiv (B'orach Tzedaka p. 348 quoted by Rav Dovid Morgenstern) held that if someone has enough money for his food and clothing but not enough for periodic expenses such as medical bills, rent, or making a wedding for a child they are considered poor and giving them is matanot levyonim. However, someone who has enough for this year's expenses giving to them so that they can pay for next year's expenses is not considered a poor person for matanot levyonim.
  43. Shevet Halevi 2:120, B'orach Tzedaka 5:2 p. 68, Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser p. 21
  44. B'orach Tzedaka 5:2 p. 68 based on Shevet Halevi 2:120 and Rav Moshe Mordechai Karp quoting Rav Elyashiv
  45. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 253:2
  46. Shevet Halevi 2:120. He explains that the Tur means that the standard of someone who was poor in the days of the mishna was 200 zuz because even if after using up that money there's a built in welfare system of maaser ani, leket, shichacha, and peah for the poor to collect. However, today since we don't have that, it is incumbent upon tzedaka to provide for a person to be able to have a steady income for his whole life. Badei Hashulchan on 253:2 also writes that someone who can't do business or invest can collect from tzedaka even more than for a year, but he limits it to 5 years of parnasa. Similarly, B'orach Tzedaka 5:2 fnt. 5 quotes Rav Moshe Mordechai Karp that someone who has a job for a year and not the next year is considered poor.
    • The Smak (Mitzvah 248) writes that nowadays we don't use the standard of 200 zuz since everything depends on the needs of the poor to be supported for a year and today the needs are greater. Or Zaruah (Hilchot Tzedaka 1:14), Mordechai (b"b n. 500), and Rabbenu Efraim (cited by Or Zaruah) agree. This also appears in Rashba (responsa 1:872). Bet Yosef 253:2 cites these sources.
    • The Tur 253:2, however, seems to elaborate and add more conditions. He says that 200 zuz was only relevant when we had a welfare system of tamchuy, kupa, maaser ani, leket, shichacha, and peah. However, we don't have that so it is necessary to give the poor enough capital to support himself from that money.
    • Bet Yosef seems to equate the Smak with the Tur. Also, Shulchan Aruch quotes the conclusion of the Tur without his other considerations. Gra 253:6 fills them in. Badei Hashulchan to 253:2, Shevet Halevi 2:120, and Rav Elyashiv cited above seem to follow the approach of the Tur that in essence there is an obligation today to ensure that the poor have a steady income.
  47. B'orach Tzedaka 5:14 p. 71 citing Sefer Chasidim ch. 1035, Rav Yakov Kamenetsky (Emet Lyakov YD 253 fnt. 141), Rav Elyashiv, and Shevet Hakehati 5:177. Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser p. 20 fnt. 10 agrees.
  48. Mishna Peah 8:8 writes that a person doesn't need to sell his household items before taking tzedaka if he's poor. Gemara Ketubot 68a resolves a contradiction between this Mishna and a contradictory briatta. The Rif 29b and Rambam (Matanot Aniyim 9:14) explain that before he collects from communal funds he needs to sell any utensil that isn't necessary for eating, wearing clothing, and sleeping. He could take tzedaka privately from individuals without selling his utensils. Rabbenu Tam (Tosfot Ketubot 68a) holds that a poor person doesn't need to sell his household utensils if he gets them after he started to take tzedaka. However, before taking tzedaka he needs to sell his utensils. Tur 253:1 cites this interpretation as well. Rashi Ketubot 68a explains that he doesn't have to sell his utensils unless he stole from the poor and can't repay it. Shulchan Aruch and Rama Y.D. 253:1 codifies the opinion of the Rif and Rambam. Shach 253:4 cites also Rabbenu Tam and adds that a rabbi who rules like Rashi isn't scorned.
  49. Chelkat Yakov YD 137 writes that someone in kollel who saved money for his children's weddings he doesn't need to spend it before taking tzedaka if otherwise he doesn't get enough for his parnasa from his stipend. He explains that the money for his children's wedding is like a household utensil that he doesn't need to sell. B'orach Tzedaka ch. 5 fnt. 20 p. 70 quotes that Rav Chaim Pinchas Sheinberg and Rav Chaim Kanievsky agreed. However, he also quotes Rav Elyashiv disagreed that he shouldn't keep money in savings if he's taking tzedaka. First he should use that up.
  50. Rama Y.D. 251:1, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:3. The Ran Gittin 28a s.v. kovrin understands that one should support poor non-Jews even if they're not asking together with Jewish poor people. However, the Mordechai (cited by Darkei Moshe 251:1) argues that only if the Jewish and non-Jewish poor are requesting simultaneously and it would be apparent that one wouldn't give to a non-Jew that one should give to the non-Jew as well. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 151:12 and Shach 251:2 rule like the Ran. Gra 251:2 understands the Rama to hold like the Mordechai but personally seems to agree with the Ran.
  51. Maharik 128 learns from the Tashbetz’s version of the Yerushalmi that it is better to spend on Talmud Torah and poor sick people than for building a shul. Maharam Rotenberg (Pragua responsa 692) writes that it is better to give tzedaka to sick people than for the lights of the shul.
  52. Maharik 128
  53. Maharik 123 writes that the greatest thing within tzedaka to give to is helping orphaned girls get married. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 249:15 codifies this. Teshuvot Vehanhagot 1:560:17 quotes from Rav Penes from the Gra that the greatest use for tzedaka is for making a wedding for a poor girl or boy. He limits this to the basic expenses of a wedding and not extras such as paying for an expensive apartment for the couple to live in afterwards. Those expenses don't have precedence over other tzedaka's.
  54. Maharik 128 writes that giving to general poor comes after the needs of building a shul. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 249:16 codifies this.
  55. The Ran (Nedarim 65b s.v. elah) says there is an obligation to support relatives in need based on the pasuk of וחי אחיך עמך (Vayikra 25:35). How far does the category of relatives go? Teshuvot Vehanhagot 1:560:13 writes that the primary relatives for tzedaka are those who a person would be invalid for testimony. B'orach Tzedaka p. 105 fnt. 30 quotes Shiurei Shevet Halevi 251:3 who argues that it doesn't depend on testimony. The questioner to Chatom Sofer 5:127 writes that from Rashi b"m 71a s.v. aniyecha it seems that relatives for tzedaka includes up to ten generations. The Chatom Sofer himself implies that tzedaka to relatives goes to relatives up to third cousins (reviyi vreviyi).
  56. Tana Dvei Eliyahu (Ish Shalom ch. 25) writes that one should give priority to give tzedaka to one's parents, siblings, children, neighbors, poor of the city, poor Jews everywhere else. Gra 251:4 quotes this. Other sources that indicate that priority is given to one's parents before one's children is Yerushalami Peah 1:1 (cited by Hagahot Vhaarot 251:15). Tur and Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 251:3 rule that tzedaka to one's parents comes before tzedaka to one's children. Aruch Hashulchan 251:3 agrees.
  57. Sifrei (Piska 116) infers from the pasuk that paternal relatives have precedence over maternal relatives. Bet Yosef 251:3, Taz 251:2, and Shach 251:7 codify this. Tzitz Eliezer 7:38:10 writes that the order of relatives to give precedence to is: parents, children who are older than 6, grandchildren, grandparents, wife's parents, siblings, nephews and nieces, relatives of his wife, and relatives through marriage.
  58. Chachmat Adam 145:1 writes that giving to neighbors before other poor people of the city applies to anyone who one is friendly with and not specifically who lives in close proximity.
  59. Maharam Mintz 7 explains that relative of one's wife are a higher priority than relatives that live outside your city and are similar to poor of your city. This is cited by Maharam Ziskind 19 and Pitchei Teshuva 251:2.
  60. Chatom Sofer YD 233-234 explains that the poor of Yerushalayim have priority since it is a mitzvah to live in Yerushalayim and someone who does more mitzvot has a higher priority to collect tzedaka. Aruch Hashulchan 251:8 agrees.
  61. The Sifrei (Piska 116) understands כי יהיה בך אביון וכו' בארצך אשר ה' אלקיך נתן לך (Devarim 15:7) that it is a mitzvah to give to the poor of Eretz Yisrael before the poor outside Israel. Tur (Pirush Haaruch Devarim 15:11) derives it from ולאביונך בארצך (Devarim 15:11).
  62. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 251:3, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:6. Mechilta (Mishpatim ch. 19) learns from the pasuk את העני עמך (Shemot 22:24) that relatives come first and then poor of your city, and then the poor of another city. However, the Sifrei (Piska 116) derives this idea from the pasuk כי יהיה בך אביון מאחד אחיך באחד שעריך בארצך אשר ה' אלקיך נתן לך לא תאמץ את לבבך ולא תקפץ את ידך מאחיך האביון (Devarim 15:7) that the order of priorities in tzedaka are: paternal relatives, maternal relatives, poor people of your city, poor people of Eretz Yisrael, and then poor people of outside Israel. This is also found in Midrash Tenayim Devarim 15:7. Bet Yosef 251:3 codifies this Sifrei and quotes it from the Smag (Asin 162) and Mordechai (b"b 503).
    • See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:6 who learns this idea from לאחיך לעניך ולאביונך בארצך (Devarim 15:11). Ramban, Ibn Ezra, Bechor Shor, and Chizkuni on Devarim 15:11 all espouse this interpretation.
  63. Mordechai b"b 502 cited by Darkei Moshe 251:3, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:6
  64. Maharam Ziskind 19 writes that one should only give 2/3 of one's tzedaka to their relatives and the rest could be given to poor people of the city or his wife's relatives. His understanding is that when dealing with the orders of precedence of chazal, it isn't absolute that everything is given to those of highest priority, rather up to 2/3 is and the rest given to lower priorities. Badei Hashulchan questions this because the other poskim do not assume so. Chatom Sofer YD 231 writes that essentially the priorities are absolute but for relatives it is a good idea not to give all of it to relatives to learn torah but only up to half. Igrot Moshe YD 1:144 echoes this sentiment.
  65. Chatom Sofer YD 231 quoting the Haflah writes that the rule that a higher priority level deserves the tzedaka first is qualified by the rule that one should give to the poor person whose needs are greater. However, that qualification does not apply to relatives, to whom one can give even if they aren't in as great of a need as the next priority level. In responsa YD 234 he applies this to the poor of Yerushalayim and other cities in Israel. If they all need food or all need clothing, Yerushalayim has priority, however, if Yerushalayim has food but needs clothing and the poor of another city needs food, the poor who need food come first. Pitchei Teshuva 251:4 cites this. Aruch Hashulchan 251:8 agrees.
  66. Igrot Moshe YD 1:144 holds that the priority levels are absolute even if someone on a lower priority level needs it more.
  67. Pitchei Teshuva 251:3 citing Shemesh Tzedaka 19 that a talmud chacham has precedence to collect tzedaka only over others of his category, but he would not take precedence of a non-talmud chacham who lives locally in the city and the talmud chacham lives outside the city.
  68. Mishna Horiyot 3:8, Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 251:9
  69. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:6
  70. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:14
  71. Rambam (Matanot Laniyim 7:7) based on Tehillim 74:21,
  72. Teshuvot Vehanhagot 5:288 defends those who don't give when someone is collecting in a shul because it is only a problem to deny a poor person's request and leave him empty handed when he expected that he would get something. However, since he knows that he's not going to get from everyone in shul there's no such expectation and therefore no prohibition on every person.
    • Maaseh Hatzedaka p. 98 says that there's no prohibition not to give a poor person collecting in shul because he got from others in shul and he isn't coming specifically to him.
  73. Derech Emunah 7:49
  74. Derech Emunah 7:49
  75. Mishna Halachot 13:173, Darkei Noam p. 396 fnt. 32 quoting Rav Aviner. The institution of having letters to confirm that a poor person is indeed poor is sourced in the Mordechai (Bava Batra 497) cited by Bet Yosef 253:12.
  76. See Yad Rama b"b 9a who clarifies that it is food he needs for immediate consumption.
  77. Bava Batra 9a, Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 251:10, Rama 256:1, Tzedaka Sheleimah 8:12. Psakim Vteshuvot 251:15 writes that we should rely on the minhag to give to anyone with a valid certificate that says that they can collect money. He says that the decrees set by local rabbis sometimes to disallow anyone without a proper certificate from a local rabbi or local bet din is forbidden. He quotes this from Rav Chaim Pinchas Sheinberg and Mishna Halachot 13:173. Rav Elyashiv in Kovetz Teshuvot 4:123 writes that we should insist to check and not rely on every certificate because there are many who aren't honest. Rif bava batra 6b and Rosh hold that you need two witnesses, Piskei Din Yerushalayim Dinei Mamonot Vbirurei Yahadut v. 3 p. 157 rules accordingly that it is necessary to ascertain the integrity of the poor person with two witnesses otherwise they should not be given anything.
  78. Mishna Halachot 13:173 writes that it is forbidden to embarrass the poor in order to check if they're honest. One should give them even if they won't have any proof that they're poor. His explains that the concept of checking that a poor person is honest applies only to the communal funds.
    • Other sources that don't insist on checking poor: The Yosef Ometz (v. 2 ch. Tzedaka n. 6) writes that it is permitted to give tzedaka to whoever requests it without checking if they're honest. See also Shraga Hameir 3:3:5 and Even Yisrael 9:92:5. Even Yisrael seems to be lenient if we know that he needs money but isn't clear how we know that. B'orach Tzedaka 5:25 cites this.
  79. Rav Shlomo Aviner in Sheilat Shlomo 3:286 writes that even an individual does not need to give tzedaka unless he knows that the poor person is honest. If he has a certificate you can trust him (Darkei Noam p. 396 fnt. 32 quoting Rav Aviner). See Kovetz Teshuvot 4:123 who also seems to apply the concept of checking that he is honest to individuals.
  80. Mishna Halachot 13:173. He quotes a letter from Rav Chaim Pinchas Sheinberg who agreed with him. Psakim Vteshuvot 251:15 quotes this.
  81. Bava Batra 9b and Yad Ramah there implies there's no mitzvah. Mishna Halacha 13:173 s.v. biram assumes there's a partial mitzvah.
  82. Mishna Halachot 14:211
  83. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 249:1, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:4
  84. Bava Batra 9a, Rambam (Matanot Laniyim 7:5), Yereyim 167, Smag (Asin 162), Geonim (responsa Geonei Mizrach Umarav 40). Derech Emunah (Matanot Aniyim 7:1 s.v. mitzvah aseh) isn't sure if tzedaka is fulfilled with less than a pruta, and even if it isn't not leaving a poor person empty handed it is enough to give even less than a pruta.
  85. Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser p. 8
  86. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 250:2
  87. Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser p. 8. See Derech Emunah 7:1 who is unsure about whether tzedaka is fulfilled with less than a pruta.
  88. Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A YD 247:10)
  89. Shulchan Aruch YD 249:1, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:4
  90. Igrot Moshe YD 2:113
  91. Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A YD 247:10)
  92. Badei Hashulchan 249:3 and Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser p. 119 agree that it is only a personal minhag and not a general global minhag. Was it a widespread minhag? Maharam (Prague responsa 74) writes that it was a universal minhag of maaser kesafim to the poor, however, Leket Yosher YD 76a writes that only a few individuals observed the minhag. Chelkat Yakov YD 137 writes that in Poland few people keep this minhag, while in Germany it is more common.
    • Tosfot Taanit 9a quotes the Sifrei that implies that there is a concept of giving a tenth of one’s profits to tzedaka. Shaar Efraim 84 quotes this Tosfot as halachically binding that it is a halacha to give maaser kesafim. Teshuva Mahava 1:87 rejects the proof from Tosfot who was only dealing with reward if one gives it. Taz 331:32 holds that it is an absolute obligation to give maaser kesafim. These sources imply it is a biblical obligation. Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser p. 118 quotes Chavot Yair 224 who understood the Taz that it is only a rabbinic obligation, while the Aruch Hashulchan 249:5 understood that it is biblical. Maharil (responsa 54 s.v. vnireh li) writes that maaser kesafim is only rabbinic.
    • Hagahot Mordechai b"b 659 quotes Rav Yechezkel who learns that there is an obligation to give ten percent of one's money from the Yerushalmi Peah 1:1. It is derived from giving maaser. See Yaskil Avdi YD 1:13 who discusses this derivation. Another possible source is the Sifrei cited by Tosfot Taanit 9a that derives from maaser the concept of giving maaser from one's money. Gra 249:2 cites these sources for the concept of giving one tenth. The Rambam (Matanot Aniyim 7:5) seems to understand that one tenth is considered an average amount to give for tzedaka but it isn't a separate obligation. Thus, Yavetz 1:3 opines that maaser kesafim is merely a standard percentage recommended by chazal to give tzedaka.
    • Bach 331:19 held it isn’t a biblical or rabbinic obligation, rather it is only a halacha within tzedaka that a medium standard of tzedaka is one tenth. This is also the opinion of the brother of the Maharil (responsa 54 s.v. vdochak), Chavot Yair 224, and Shelat Yavetz 1:3 and 1:6. Teshuva Mahava 1:87 suggests this as well. Maharam (Prague responsa 74) writes that it is only a minhag. Pitchei Teshuva 331:12 quotes this as a proof. However, Orach Miyshor YD 249 writes that the Maharam agrees it is an obligation but the fact that we give it to the poor is a minhag. Teshuva Mahava 1:87 delibrates about the meaning of the Maharam on this topic, whether it is a minhag or a rabbinic. Derisha 215:1 quoting Rav Pinchas implies it is only a minhag.
    • In practice most poskim hold that maaser kesafim is a minhag. This is the view of Bach 331:19, Yavetz 1:3, Pri Yitzchak 2:27, Chatom Sofer YD 231, Aruch Hashulchan 249:5, Yabia Omer 10:58:29, Chelkat Yakov YD 137, and Badei Hashulchan 249:3. Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser p. 118 quotes Derech Emunah 7:27 and Ahavat Chesed 2:18:2 who think it is just a minhag. Shevet Halevi 4:124:2 and 5:131:1 writes that we do not hold that maaser kesafim is biblical. Chatom Sofer YD 232 writes that the Maharil held that maaser kesafim is biblical but in YD 231 he assumed it was a minhag. Also Pri Yitzchak 2:27 proves that the Maharil (responsa 54) held it was either a minhag or derabbanan but certainly not biblical.
  93. Chatom Sofer YD 231, Leket Yosher YD 76a
  94. Igrot Moshe YD 2:212 rejects the reason that the money wasn't already maaser'ed because maaser applies to the person and not the money. However, he accepts the claim that the father-in-law doesn't want the son-in-law to give maaser because if he does the father-in-law will need to give more support.
  95. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Borach Tzedaka p. 340) holds that if one legally has to support one's children then one can't deduct that from maaser. If one isn't legally obligated, Rav Auerbach felt that most poskim consider it maaser. Does supporting one’s children above 6 count as maaser? Maharam Rotenberg (Prague responsa 75) writes that one can consider that money spent feeding one’s children above 6 as maaser, however, the Taz 249:1 argues that although it is considered a meritorious act (Ketubot 50b). Rishon Letzion is lenient, while Brikei Yosef is strict. Ahavat Chesed 19:1 is lenient, Aruch Hashulchan is strict. Igrot Moshe YD 1:143 holds that it wouldn’t count towards maaser since you’re obligated based on mezonot to yourself today to support your children as long as they’re living at home. Badei Hashulchan 243:19, Shevet Halevi 5:133:2, and Yechava Daat 3:76 are lenient. Rav Wosner (B'orach Tzedaka p. 349 from Shiurei Shevet Halevi) agreed that ideally he shouldn't count paying for children's food towards maaser but for someone who can't afford otherwise can do so up to half of their maaser. Yechava Daat’s argument is that it is a dispute in the rishonim if that is the case and therefore one can be lenient. Shevet Halevi 5:133:2 also writes that since it is a dispute between the Taz and Shach one should only count a portion of funds for his children’s food towards maaser.
  96. Shevet Halevi 5:133:2 writes that supporting grandchildren is tzedaka unlike the Aruch Hashulchan 249:7. Yechava Daat 3:76 in fnt. agrees with the Shevet Halevi.
  97. Shevet Halevi 5:133:2 writes that supporting a son-in-law to learn Torah counts towards maaser. Chelkat Yakov YD 137 and Igrot Moshe YD 1:144 agree. Aruch Hashulchan 249:10 disagrees and thinks it can’t be counted towards maaser. Chatom Sofer YD 2:231 writes that if he accepted to begin with that he’ll count the money he’s using to support his son-in-law to learn Torah from his maaser money, he can do so, however, if he stipulated to support his son-in-law not from his maaser money he can’t change his mind later.
  98. Ahavat Chesed 20:1, Chelkat Yakov YD 137, Igrot Moshe YD 1:144, Shiurei Shevet Halevi 253:2, Tzitz Eliezer 9:1:4, B’orach Tzedaka 5:20 p. 73
  99. Derech Emunah (Biurim 9:13 s.v. hayu) writes that if a kollel member is receiving a stipend only if they have money and can stop paying him at any time is considered poor. However, someone who has a contract that the kollel will pay him isn’t considered poor. Chelkat Yakov YD 1:137 writes that even someone who is taking a stipend can sometimes be considered poor if the stipend isn’t enough for him and his family’s needs. B’orach Tzedaka p. 74 fnt. 34 quotes Rav Nissim Karelitz as saying the same thing. He adds that if his wife works that it would depend on how many kids he has etc. to know whether he is poor. Teshuvot Vehanhagot 1:568 implies the same.
  100. Chelkat Yakov YD 137 and Tzitz Eliezer 9:1:4 write that someone can give maaser to a relative to learn Torah without saying that it is maaser money if he’s worried that he’s not going to take it. B’orach Tzedaka 5:20 agrees.
  101. Teshuvot Vehanhagot 1:568
  102. Kiddushin 32a states that a person who spends maaser ani to support his parents should be cursed. Maharam (Prague responsa 75) writes that it is permitted to spend maaser kesafim for supporting one's older children or one's parents if he's poor. In responsa 541 he writes that if he supports his father with his maaser kesafim he should be cursed. Rama Y.D. 240:5 explains that if a person can afford supporting his parents without using tzedaka and instead he uses tzedaka he should be cursed, however, if he can't afford it he should support his parents with his tzedaka. Shach Y.D. 251:5 agrees.
  103. Leket Yosher 76a writes that it is permitted to use maaser kesafim to teach one's son gemara since one only needs to teach him mikra and not gemara.
    • Pri Yitzchak 2:27 writes that paying to teach your son counts for maaser since you only need to teach your sons torah shebaal peh but don’t need to pay to teach them gemara, Ahavat Chesed 19:2 and Aruch Hashulchan 249:10 are strict. Leket Yosher YD 76a is lenient. However, Igrot Moshe YD 2:113 writes that sending children to public is not an option because they won’t learn torah and emunah. Since it is an obligation to send them to a religious school the tuition can’t be counted as maaser. Shevet Halevi 5:133:2 is strict for another reason; since it is a mitzvah to pay to teach your son talmud if you can afford it (Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 245:6), it shouldn’t be deducted from maaser if one can afford it. Badei Hashulchan 249:13 and Yachava Daat 3:76 in fnt. disagree and are lenient.
  104. Rav Wosner (B'orach Tzedaka p. 349 from Shiurei Shevet Halevi)
  105. Igrot Moshe YD 2:113
  106. Rishon Letzion 247:1 writes that a person should set aside the maaser kesafim even if there’s no poor people present so that it’ll be available for later. Shevet Halevi 4:124:2 and 5:131:1 disagrees and holds that there’s no mitzvah to separate maaser kesafim like there is for other maaser; the mitzvah is to give it to the poor.
  107. Darkei Moshe 250:1 quoting Hagahot Mordechai (Bava Batra n. 657), Aruch Hashulchan 249:7
  108. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:4
  109. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:4
  110. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:4
  111. Tosfot Taanit 9a, Vayichal Moshe Maaser Kesafim 2:1
  112. Vayichal Moshe Maaser Kesafim 2:27
  113. Vayichal Moshe Maaser Kesafim 2:21
  114. Vayichal Moshe Maaser Kesafim 2:8
  115. Derech Emunah 7:27 quotes the Chazon Ish that someone who gets a non-cash present doesn't not have to give maaser on its value. In fnt. 67 he explains that the reason is that it wasn't included in the minhag. B'orach Tzedaka 10:7 agrees.
  116. Shevet Halevi 5:133:3:7 writes that the minhag is not to give maaser on getting a real estate for an inheritance or present.
  117. B'orach Tzedaka 10:13
  118. Vayichal Moshe Maaser Kesafim 2:9
  119. Igrot Moshe YD 2:114 holds that since the dollar fluctuates it isn’t considered a gain if one sold a property and part of the gain is attributed to inflation.
  120. B'orach Tzedaka 10:2
  121. B'orach Tzedaka 10:8
  122. Taz 331:32, B'orach Tzedaka 10:1
  123. B'orach Tzedaka 10:3, Vayichal Moshe Maaser Kesafim 2:12
  124. Vayichal Moshe Maaser Kesafim 2:17
  125. Vayichal Moshe Maaser Kesafim 2:18
  126. B'orach Tzedaka 10:6
  127. The Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser (p. 140)
  128. Do you deduct losses? Chavot Yair 224 and Yavetz 1:6 hold that you can exclude business expenses from maaser kesafim. Shaar Efraim 84 holds that you should take off the maaser for each time that you do a calculation of your gains and losses. If one business gained and one lost within one time period and you then calculate them, then they offset each other. However, if in one time period when profits were calculated there was only losses and in another period there were only gains they don’t offset each other. Nodeh Beyehuda YD 198 however argues that you should do the calculation every year and calculate all the gains and losses and they offset each other.
  129. Vayichal Moshe Maaser Kesafim 2:6
  130. Vayichal Moshe Maaser Kesafim 2:6
  131. Avkat Rochel 3 holds that after the first year, where one takes 1/10 of one's capital, afterwards one only takes 1/10 of the income each year after having paid for all living expenses such as food and clothing. Yachava Daat 3:76 cites many who agree with the Avkat Rochel; this is also the opinion of the Knesset Hagedola 249:1, Shoel Vnishal 2;160, Kinyan Torah 102:4, Mahari Shtif 56, Toafot Reem 91, Yismach Levav, and Tzitz Eliezer 10:6. Others including the Tashbetz 2:131, Chida (Birkei Yosef 249:5) and Bet Dino Shel Shlomo 1 51a disagree and hold that living expenses are not deducted before taking maaser. Minchat Yitzchak 6:101 is strict. Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yachava Daat 3:76) is lenient if a person is under financial pressure. Aruch Hashulchan 247:7 holds like the Chida that living expenses are not excluded. Guide to Halachos v. 1 p. 140 by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann writes that most poskim do not exclude personal expenses from maaser unlike business expenses.
    • There are different texts of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:4. In the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch with Piskei Haadmor Hazakan (5752) and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch with Piskei Hagram Eliyahu (5770) it has that text of חוץ מצרכי ביתו. Sefaria also has that text. Tzitz Eliezer 10:1 cites Kitzur Shulchan Aruch with that text. In older ones, like the Vilna 5690 edition has it. However, many older ones do not have this text including the Ir Dovid edition (Leipzig 5684), Marah Makom edition (5688 New York), and Misgeret Hashulchan edition (Grosverdin 5702) do not have that text. Shaarei Shalom edition (Yerushalayim 5738) doesn't have it and in fnt. 14 notes that he is skeptical of whether the text is authentic. In the very first printing in Ungvar, from the original publication year Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Ungvar 1864) does not have the text (Wikipedia - Kitzur Shulchan Aruch). Again in (Levov 1867) same thing, that text is not there. One of the earliest editions from 1870, 6 years after it was published, (5730 Levov p. 58) does not have it. Bar Ilan's Responsa project does not have the text.
    • The Birkei Yosef 249:5 writes that even though it seems that the Avkat Rochel 3 said that you exclude household expenses, he interprets it to mean that you have to include the household expenses. Aruch Hashulchan 249:7, Ahavat Chesed 2:18:3, and Badei Hashulchan 249:5 also conclude that you need to take off maaser kesafim from household expenses and they are not deducted.
    • Kinyan Torah 1:102:4 quoting Rav Yakov Shor from Kitov and Mahari Shtif 1:56 agree with the Avkat Rochel. Mahari Shtif writes that if one can't afford giving all the maaser he should write down how much maaser he owes excluding the expenses and then use it for his expenses first and give the complete maaser later on if he's able to afford it in the future. Maharam Broda responsa 14 also seems to be lenient. Tzitz Eliezer 10:6 writes that if one wants to accept to give maaser only from profit after household expenses they can do that. Yabia Omer YD 10:58:29 cites many who are lenient. Yalkut Yosef YD 247:10 rules that if someone can afford it they should give maaser kesafim on all profits and not include household expenses, however, if they can't afford it he should stipulate that he's only going to give maaser kesafim after he deducts all household expenses.
    • Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser p. 150 writes that most poskim do not allow deducting household expenses. He quotes Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Kovetz Hatorah v. 39 p. 91), Shevet Halevi 5:133, and Minchat Yitzchak 5:34:3 who are strict. He also notes that the editions of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch that say to deduct household expenses are an error. Igrot Moshe YD 1:143 seems to be strict as well.
  132. Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser p. 150
  133. B'orach Tzedaka 10:10
  134. Igrot Moshe YD 1:143 holds that you can deduct income tax since it is like you didn't earn that money. However, sales tax or property taxes on your residential home are not excluded. Feeding your children above 6 years old is not tzedaka. It is an obligation until the age when children usually leave their parents home. Minchat Yitzchak 5:34:9, however, argues that you can deduct all taxes.
  135. Ketubot 67b, Rama Y.D. 249:1
  136. Chafetz Chaim (Ahavat Chesed 2:19:4) rules like the Rambam Pirush Mishanyot Peah 1:1 and explains how it isn’t in contradiction to Rambam (Matanot Aniyim 7:5) and Shulchan Aruch YD 249:1. His answer is that when there's a poor person in front of you in need there's an obligation to give even if it is more than 20% if you can afford it.
  137. Birkei Yosef 249:1 explains the Pirush Mishnayot like the Chafetz Chaim but holds like the Rambam in the Mishna Torah and Shulchan Aruch that it is only an act of piety to give 20% and not an obligation even if a poor person comes asking. Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser p. 11 cites this dispute between the Chafetz Chaim and Birkei Yosef and concludes one should ask one's local Rav.
  138. Chafetz Chaim (Ahavat Chesed 2:19:4 fnt. s.v. vyaan) explains the Rambam Pirush Mishnayot Peah 1:1 holds that it is an obligation to give up to 20% if one can afford it and not above that. Based on a halacha lmoshe msinai chazal instituted that a person can’t give more than 20% of their wealth for a mitzvah so that he doesn’t become poor. Even so it is a pious act to give more than 20% if one can afford it comfortably. Though he later notes that it sounds like the Rambam in Mishna Torah (Matanot Aniyim 7:5) and Shulchan Aruch 249:1 imply that one should give even more than a fifth.
    • Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe YD 1:143) understands that Shulchan Aruch YD 249:1 requires giving more than 20% if he can afford it and there is a poor person’s whose is in need of that money. However, he concludes that the Rama holds that generally it is forbidden to give more than 20% to tzedaka and rules in accordance with the Rama.
    • Minchat Yitzchak 5:34, however, argues with Igrot Moshe and holds that it is permitted to give above 20% for someone who can afford it.
  139. Shevet Halevi 2:121
  140. Minchat Yitzchak 5:34:2
  141. Igrot Moshe YD 1:143. Shevet Halevi explains that the reason that it is permitted to give more than 20% is because there is a poor person who is requesting it. That obligation to give him his needs allows giving more than 20% if he can afford it. He thinks that there’s is a prohibition even for someone very wealthy except that it is permitted when there is a pressing tzedaka need, in which case it is an obligation.
    • However, the Yavetz 1:3 vamnam and Ahavat Chesed 20:1 hold that it is permitted for someone very wealthy to give more than 20% even for non-tzedaka needs such as for mitzvot. The reason of not spending more than 20% doesn’t apply to someone very wealthy. Chachmat Adam 144:10 implies this as well but Shevet Halevi believes Chachmat Adam holds it is only permitted when there is a pressing tzedaka need.
  142. Chachmat Adam 144:10, Yavetz 1:3, and Ahavat Chesed 20:1 permit it, Aruch Hashulchan, Igrot Moshe YD 1:143, and Shevet Halevi 2:121 hold it is forbidden. Nonetheless, the Shevet Halevi holds that for a poor person who needs it immediately it is permitted and obligatory to give even more than 20%. Yavetz 1:3 holds that it is permitted to give more than a fifth is there is a present tzedaka need. Minchat Yitzchak 5:34 agrees. Aruch Hashulchan 247:4 holds that it is forbidden to give more than 20% even if there is a poor person in need of tzedaka requesting from him tzedaka.
  143. Biur Halacha 626 s.v. afilu writes that if someone has a steady income he can give more than 20% for a mitzvah because there isn’t a concern that he’s going to become poor. His proof is Kiddushin 29b that for pidyon haben it is permitted to spend more than 20%. He reiterates this in Ahavat Chesed 20:3. Shevet Halevi 4:64 seems to agree.
    • Igrot Moshe OC 5:41 argues that it is forbidden even if he has a steady income and pidyon haben is different since the mitzvah itself is giving the cash. However, other mitzvot for which the cash itself isn’t the object used for the mitzvah, there is a 20% cap on trying to acquire the mitzvah. Also, Chazon Ish OC 149:3 answers that pidyon haben is different since there’s an obligation on one’s property to pay for pidyon haben.
  144. Rama 250:1 writes that the obligation of supplying the poor with all of his needs applies to the community and not the individual. Therefore, if an individual is approached by a poor person he can tell the community to help him for whatever he lacks. This is based on the Bet Yosef 250:1. However, the Bet Yosef considers the Tur who assume otherwise. Bach 250:2 and Gra 250:3 disagree with the Rama while the Shach 250:1 defends the Rama. Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser p. 5 cites both approaches. Tzedaka Umishpat 3:2 rules like the Rama. In fnt. 8 he says from Rashi the requested has to go to the gabbay tzedaka or community and can’t force the poor person to do that.
  145. Tur and Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 253:2
  146. Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser p. 21
  147. Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser p. 22
  148. Derech Emunah 7:5 understands that one should give something even if it is as small as a fig implies that it can be even less than a pruta.
  149. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:8
  150. Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser p. 12
  151. Kitzur S”A 34:3
  152. Bava Batra 9a establishes that a poor person collecting from many people in the community is only entitled to a small gift. The Tur 250:3 explains that the Rosh understands that this only applies to the communal fund but everyone else doesn't even have to give that amount. However, the Tur concludes like the Rambam that everyone needs to give that amount. Bet Yosef explains that even the Rambam agrees with the Rosh. Bach 250:2 accepts the Tur and Rambam that it applies to everyone. Shach 250:4 and Badei Hashulchan 250:29 agree. Bet Yosef 250:3 sides with the opinion of Tosfot and Rosh that a large amount is a mealsworth, so a small amount is less than that.
  153. Badei Hashulchan 250:28
  154. Badei Hashulchan 250:30 citing Ahavat Chesed 2:17 fnt. s.v. vchadashim
  155. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 248:4 codifies the gemara Bava Kama 119a that it is forbidden for a collector of tzedaka to accept a large donation from a married women because there is a concern that her husband wouldn't agree with that donation. The Raavan (end of Bava Kama) says that it is permitted nowadays to accept donations from women since it is common for women to in charge of finances of their husband's money. Maharshal b"k 10:59 cites this and notes that it depends on every situation. Yad Avraham 248 cites this Maharshal. Chavalim Beneyimim EH 5:34 writes that it is permitted to accept a large tzedaka donation from a woman since the common practice today is for a couple to split their property and since she has joint ownership she can give a large gift. Maharit CM 2:67 says that a woman can keep her salary for herself if she is the sole provider for the food in the house and even in that case he suggests that perhaps she willingly cedes her rights to the salary and it belongs to her husband. He is also discussing work outside the house. Rav Reuven Feinstein (Etz Erez p. 798) writes that his father, Rav Moshe Feinstein, held that if a woman works outside the home that money belongs to her. Shevet Halevi 11:309 disagrees and holds that a husband owns his wife’s salary even if she works outside the house. Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser p. 28 writes that there's reason to accept a large donation from a women who is working or if she's in charge of running financial decisions of the household but in all cases it is advisable that a husband and wife discuss in advance how much tzedaka a wife can distribute to avoid any conflict.
  156. The Rambam Melachim 10:10 writes that a non-Jew who wants to fulfill mitzvot and receive reward we shouldn't stop him. On the other hand, in 10:9 he writes that we shouldn't let him do a mitzvah that he isn't obligated in because he is creating a non-religion in doing so. He should either convert or only keep the 7 mitzvot of bnei noach. The Radvaz explains that the distinction is whether he intends to create a new religion. If he just does a mitzvah voluntarily not intending that it is an obligation that is acceptable, while if he is does it with the intention of being a commandment he should be stopped. While it seems from the Rambam and Radvaz that the non-Jew is rewarded for doing a mitzvah voluntarily it isn’t absolutely clear. It is possible that the non-Jew is doing the mitzvah voluntarily to get rewarded but isn’t actually going to be rewarded. That is the position of Rav Moshe Feinstein in Igrot Moshe YD 2:7.
    • However, in light of the Rambam responsa 148 (Blau, Pear Hadur 60) it seems clear that the Rambam holds that a non-Jew who does a mitzvah voluntarily is indeed rewarded. He seems to apply it to all the mitzvot. The Meiri Sanhedrin 59a s.v. ben also says this, but Igrot Moshe YD 2:7 writes that it is a scribal error. The other proofs against Igrot Moshe like Pirush Mishnayot of Rambam Trumot 3:9 are dealt with in that teshuva.
  157. Rambam (Matanot Aniyim 8:9), Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 254:1. The Gemara Bava Batra 10b states that it is forbidden to take tzedaka from non-Jews because it gives them merits. The Derisha asks why there isn't a concern of giving merits to a non-Jew when accepting charity from them if he needs it. The Derisha answers that if one is personally benefitting from the tzedaka it is permitted. The Taz 254:1 says that it isn't a merit for the non-Jew if he isn't intending on giving Jew's charity but just gives generously to everyone who is poor. The Rishon Letzion 254:2 says that one can only take money if one can't subsist without it, and in such a case the need for the funds overrides the concern of giving the non-Jew merits. Rav Moshe in Igrot Moshe YD 2:7 writes that non-Jews don’t get any reward for volunteering mitzvot if it isn’t the 7 mitzvot bnei noach, tzedaka, korbanot, speaking respectfully, or honoring Hashem.
  158. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 254:2. The mother of the king sent tzedaka money to Rava and he distributed it to non-Jewish poor people. He wouldn't give it to Jewish poor because of a prohibition learned from Yishayahu 27:11.
    • Even giving the charity to non-Jewish poor people is only permitted because the mother of the king was important and in order to appease the king he had to accept the money. This is the position of Rashi b"b 11a s.v. dlo, Tosfot b"b 8a s.v. yativ, and Rambam (Matanot Laniyim 8:9) as understood by Radvaz (Matanot Laniyim 8:9) and Kesef Mishna (Melachim 10:10). Rishon Letzion 254:2 in his first answer and Kovetz Shiurim explains that even giving to non-Jewish poor people is some merit and that is why it is only permitted to facilitate if it is to appease the king. Rishon Letzion writes in his second answer that it is permitted to take from any non-Jew. Radvaz (Melachim 10:10) seems to agree because of concern that refusing to take it will lead to ill-will between Jews and non-Jews. Lechem Mishna (Melachim 10:10) seems to limit the permissibility of taking from non-Jews to kings or leaders.
    • Rashi understands the reason of the prohibition is that facilitating the tzedaka of a non-Jew gives him merit for continued success. Shach 254:2 cites Rashi.
  159. Rama Y.D. 254:2. Rashi b”b 11a s.v. dlo writes that Rav Yosef took money from the non-Jewish mother of the king for redeeming captives in order to appease the king and it wasn’t an option to give the charity to non-Jewish poor people since she instructed using it for the mitzvah of redeeming Jewish captives. Tosfot 8a s.v. yativ agrees. Yad Ramah b”b 10b n. 132 agrees in this respect to Rashi. (Though, unlike Rashi, he holds that it is permitted to do genivat daat to avoid a prohibition.) Bet Yosef notes that the other rishonim who don’t say this distinction seem to hold that it is forbidden even when instructed and Rav Yosef did in fact redeem non-Jewish captives. Rama codifies the opinion of Rashi and Tosfot. Shach 254:3 cites Bach who agrees with the Rama. Though the Taz 254:3 disputes the Rama, Aruch Hashulchan 254:2 agrees with the Rama and Shach.
  160. Rishon Letzion 254:2 notes the dispute between the Bet Yosef and Rama and explains Shulchan Aruch in line with the Bet Yosef.
  161. Erchin 6b, Tosfot b”b 8a s.v. yativ, Hagahot Ashri b”b 1:36, Rama Y.D. 254:2. The Hagahot Ashri explains that the difference between a gift to charity and a donation to the shul is that charity atones for the giver, while a donation to the shul does not. Shach 254:4 agrees.
  162. Yad Ramah b”b 10b n. 132 based on the stories of Daniel (Daniel 2:48) and Yirmiyahu (39:10) accepting gifts from non-Jews. Another proof is where Rebbe Yehuda Nesia (a"z 6b) would have accepted a gift from a non-Jew except for a concern of avoda zara. Derech Emunah (Matanot Aniyim 8:57) codifies this Yad Ramah.
  163. Bet Hillel 254:1, Rishon Letzion 254:1, Aruch Hashulchan 254:1. Rishon Letzion explains that even taking in private is a chilul Hashem or it is extending the merits of the non-Jew and only permitted if impossible otherwise.
  164. Tosfot b”b 8b s.v. vlishnota quoting Rabbenu Tam, Tosfot Erchin 6b s.v. ad quoting the Ri, Rosh b”b 1:29, Mordechai b”b 1:492, Rambam (Matanot Aniyim 9:7 and responsa Blau n. 206). Ri in Mordechai and Radvaz (Matanot Aniyim 9:7) explains that the community can redistribute it because it was given with that understanding (‘’lev bet din matneh’’). Rabbenu Yonah 8b and Ramban 8b hold that it can be switched for any purpose but must be repaid to the charity fund. Rashba and Ritva also quote this opinion.
  165. Tosfot Erchin 6a s.v. mishe’bat
  166. Ri Migash 8b, Yad Ramah b”b 8b n. 90
  167. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 256:4 codifies the Rambam.
  168. Rama Y.D. 256:4. Shach 256:8 ponders how this is true in light of the fact that the Gemara Erchin 6b clearly only allows a gabbay tzedaka to redistribute charity funds for a mitzvah but not for any communal need. This is also evident in Tosfot b"b 8b s.v. lishnota and Rosh b"b 1:27. The Shach suggests that the Rama means that if the practice is that the gabbay distributes the money he is given authorization by the community that he can act on behalf of the community. Gra 256:9 questions the Rama but also supports him from the Yerushalmi (Megillah 3:1).
  169. The Gemara b"b 8b clearly establishes that it is forbidden to appoint someone to collect tzedaka by himself since it is considered an appointment of leadership. Rather they should appoint at least two people. This is codified by the Rambam (Matanot Aniyim 9:5), Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 256:3, Taz 256:2, and Shach 256:5. However, the Radvaz (Matanot Aniyim 9:5) notes that today we have the practice that we do not force people to give tzedaka or take collateral for people to pay tzedaka and so it isn't considered a leadership role and it is fine for an individual to collect tzedaka. Derech Emunah 9:32 codifies this practice.
  170. Bava Batra 8b, Rambam (Matanot Aniyim 9:5), Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 256:3
  171. Radvaz (Matanot Aniyim 9:5)
  172. Erchin 6b, Rosh b”b 1:29
  173. Rosh b”b 1:29, Rashba b”b 8b s.v. lishnota, Yad Ramah b”b 8b n. 90. Ri Migash 8b implies that he would agree with the Rosh.
  174. Tosfot Erchin s.v. iylayma
  175. Tosfot Erchin 6b s.v. ad, Rosh b”b 1:29. Although the Tosfot b”b 8b s.v. vlishnota holds it can be repurposed for any purpose, the Rosh also thinks that but because of the consideration of Rosh Hashana 6b holds that it must be repaid.
  176. Tosfot Erchin 6b s.v. ad citing Rabbenu Baruch
  177. Gemara Erchin 6a
  178. Tosfot Erchin 6a s.v. mishe’bat, Rosh b”b 1:29
  179. Rosh b”b 1:29
  180. Tosfot Erchin 6b citing Rabbenu Baruch
  181. Gemara Erchin 6b
  182. Tzedeka Umishpat 8:5, Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser p. 115. Tzedaka Umishpat ch. 8 fnt. 25 writes that even for a communal tzedaka box it is permitted to exchange one's coins even if the money is considered as though it reached the gabbay's hands. He says that it is permitted since the treasurer appointed over the tzedaka doesn't care if people exchange it is permitted. See, however, Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 259:1.
  183. Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser p. 115
  184. Rambam (Matanot Aniyim 9:1) writes that it is an obligation of a city to establish a communal charity fund for the poor of the city that is distributed once a week. Radvaz explains that it is an obligation of the city like every communal need such as building a shul which can be imposed on all of the community members. Gra YD 256:1 agrees.
  185. Rambam (Matanot Aniyim 9:2-3) writes that we establish a communal food fund (tamchuy), however, the practice in many communities is only to have a communal charity food (kupa) and not a food fund. Radvaz explains that it is acceptable for the community to choose how to distribute the funds because it is up to them to redistribute it (Matanot Aniyim 9:7). Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 256:1 codifies the Rambam.
  186. Bava Batra 10b remarks that a person shouldn't give to a tzedaka fund unless someone like Rabbi Chanina Ben Tradiyon is the gabbay tzedaka. Tosfot s.v. elah explains that he should be trustworthy by Rabbi Chanina but it isn't a prerequisite that he is as much of a tzaddik as Rabbi Chanina. Rambam (Matanot Aniyim 9:1) and Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 256:1 codify this gemara. Bet Yosef 249:6 notes that language of the Tur that the gabbay tzedaka should be wise and trustworthy like Rabbi Chanina. He writes that the minhag isn't to insist that the gabbay is wise in Torah as long as he is wise in being a gabbay of tzedaka. Igrot Moshe YD 1:144 s.v. heneh writes that a person should not give to an organization that the collectors aren't religious. Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser p. 37 agrees that one should not give to organizations that do not follow the dictates of the Torah.
  187. Yad Eliyahu 54 writes that if they're doing it for pay you don’t have to stand up for them since they’re doing the mitzvah for their own benefit. Kima Vhiddur p. 271 argues that the Taz 361:2 implies otherwise that one should stand for everyone going to do a mitzvah whether or not they’re being paid. Though he cites many achronim who agreed with the Yad Eliyahu including the Ikrei Hadaat YD 26:31 and Ben Ish Chai (Shana Sheniya Ki Tetsey 19). Also he cites the Derech Emunah (Matanot Aniyim, Tzion Hahalacha 9:25) based on Biur Halacha 38:8 s.v. hem that if they’re doing it for both the mitzvah and the pay you should stand for them.
  188. Bava Batra 8b, Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 256:3.
  189. Pesakim Vteshuvot 256:9 quotes Betzel Hachachma 2:36:3 and Sharei Tzedek 11:19 that the halacha that requires 3 people to distribute tzedaka only applies to a communal kupa and today we don't have that, we just have individual tzedaka funds and shul tzedaka funds for their community but not for the whole town. Therefore, they can distribute the tzedaka however they like without a bet din.
  190. Maharik 6 writes about a man who appointed his wife over a field for tzedaka that she should disburse the fruits to tzedaka. He says that she isn't allowed to give the field to someone else to deal with the tzedaka distributions since her husband wanted only her. However, if someone gives to a gabbay tzedaka the gabbay can give it to someone else to distribute since people understand that the gabbay might do so. Shulchan Aruch 257:11 codifies the Maharik. Taz 257:6 argues with the formulation of Shulchan Aruch because there's no real difference between a gabbay and anyone else. It all depends on the understanding. Shach in Nekudat Hakesef defends Shulchan Aruch that in general such is the case.
  191. Chachmat Adam 147:24
  192. Rambam (responsa Blau 206), Rama YD 256:4
  193. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:15-16
  194. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:16
  195. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:16
  196. Ketubot 68a, Shevet Halevi 4:130
  197. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:1
  198. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:1
  199. In this instance, "tzedaka" refers to acts of kindness as well, because the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch described it as one who does Tzedaka, not one who gives Tzedaka
  200. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:1
  201. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:1. Gemara Baba Batra 10a also says that one who gives tzedaka brings the geula closer. Gemara Shabbat 139a says that Jerusalem will only be redeemed through tzedakah.
  202. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:1, Mishlei 28:27
  203. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:1
  204. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:1
  205. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:1
  206. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:1
  207. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:1. Mishlei 10:2 says that tzedakah saves from death.
  208. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:11
  209. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:11
  210. Gemara Baba Batra 9b. Gemara Chagiga 5a tells that Rabbi Yanai once saw a man give money to a poor man publicly. He said, “It would have been better for you not to have given him anything rather than giving to him as you did, causing him embarrassment.
  211. Gemara Baba Batra 10a
  212. Gemara Baba Batra 9b
  213. Gemara Ketubot 68a
  214. Is it permitted to test Hashem by giving Tzedaka that he will make you rich? Tur 247:1 writes that it is permitted to test Hashem for all tzedaka. Bet Yosef says it is only permitted for maaser. Rama quotes these two opinions. It is implied from the Bet Yosef and Rama that they hold it is permitted to test Hashem for maaser kesafim. Ahavat Chesed 2:18:1 fnt. 2 agrees with the Rama that you can test Hashem for maaser kesafim.
    • Or Zaruah (Tzedaka ch. 13) permits testing Hashem for giving tzedaka like the opinion of the Tur. Radvaz 3:441 implies that he holds like the Tur. Rabbenu Yonah (Shaarei Teshuva 3:30), Yereyim (361), and Smag (Lavin 4) disagree. They're not clear if it is permitted for maaser kesafim or not. Maharshal on Smag 4 makes this distinction between maaser and tzedaka.
    • Yavetz 1:3 argues that it is only permitted to test Hashem for maaser rishon of grain but not maaser kesafim. Shlah (Hilchot Tzedaka) and Pitchei Teshuva 247:2 quoting Mishnat Chachamim agree. Meiri Tanit 9a has an extreme opinion that it is always forbidden to test Hashem. One can give tzedaka to get a reward but can't give maaser or do any mitzvah on condition that he gets a reward.
  215. Radvaz 3:441
  216. Maharshal (cited by Derisha 247 and Shach 247)
  217. Badei Hashulchan (247:1 Biurim)
  218. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 252:1
  219. Bet Yakov 148 writes that someone who is in captivity and doesn't want to be freed can be freed against his will and the one who paid for his freedom should be repaid for that person's assets. See Yad Eliyahu 74 s.v. v’ein who seems to disagree. Pitchei Teshuva 252:9 cites this dispute.
  220. Maharik 7 writes that if a person says he's giving money to tzedaka he doesn't mean to include redeeming captives. Rama 252:1 codifies this. Taz 256:4 and Gra 252:4 disagree but the Nekudat Hakesef 252 defends the Rama.
  221. Radvaz 1:40 writes that nowadays the practice is to redeem captives even more than their worth. He gives three justifications of this practice: 1) The worth is determined by the worth of other captives and not the slave market. Since it is possible than a non-Jewish captive would go for this same worth even though they're stronger. 2) A talmid chacham is permitted to redeem for more than his worth. 3) A child who might be assimilated can be redeemed for more than his worth. Shach 252:4 quotes the Bach that the practice today is to redeem captives for more than their worth because of the opinion of the Ran who allows it if it isn’t a strain on the public funds such as if the money comes from relatives.
  222. Chavot Yair 213 writes that a person can free himself from jail even if that means that the others left in jail will have worse treatment.