From the Rav’s Desk: Must one separate Maaser from charity monies that he receives?

  1. Question: [Tuesday, 28th Adar 1, 5782]

I recently had a charity campaign done on my behalf for a specific personal cause. I wanted to know if I am obligated to separate Maaser from the charity money that I received?



If the charity campaign was for a specific cause, which the donors were made aware of, then not only are the received charity monies exempt from Maaser, but it is perhaps even forbidden to separate Maaser from these monies. This especially applies if by taking off Maaser one will not be able to afford the expense that the money was raised for, or will not be able to afford it to the quality that is desired. [For example, if one raised charity money for extraordinary medical expenses that have come up due to the discovery of a medical condition, God forbid, then one is not to separate Maaser from that money and is rather to fully use it to fund his medical expenses. And so on and so forth, with examples of the like.] If, however, the expense is already fully covered, and there is leftover charity money from the campaign, then, although he may keep the money, Maaser is to be separated from it, like by any income. Likewise, if one has extra money aside for the money collected for the campaign, then you may [and perhaps should] use that money to separate 10% Maaser from the total amount you received from the campaign, if you can afford it.

Explanation: It is an explicit ruling in the Shulchan Aruch that even a pauper who lives off charity must himself also give charity [if he can afford it]. It is likewise ruled that a pauper may use the charity money for whatever he desires. Accordingly, some Poskim explicitly write that a pauper is to separate Maaser from charity money that he receives. However, this only applies if he can afford it. Furthermore, some Poskim rule that this only applies if the charity money was not given for a specific cause, but rather for general expenses. If, however, the charity donation was given for a specific cause, then it is forbidden to use that money for anything other than that cause if one can assume that the donors are Makpid, otherwise it would be considered like one is stealing from the donors. Now, although we rule that the pauper who receives charity has the right to change from the intent of the giver, this only applies if the donors are not Makpid, or for purposes that they are not particular against. If, however, they are particular, then one may not use their money for those purposes. Thus, we concluded above that one should not and perhaps may not separate Maaser from the charity income until the full expense for the intended campaign has been covered. If after the full expenses have been covered there remain leftover monies, then since the pauper may keep the money, it is seemingly viewed as a regular income of which one is the separate Maaser from. Likewise, if one has savings and can afford it, then seemingly he should remove 10% from his savings on behalf of the total charity income.

Sources: See Chikreiy Lev Tzedaka 2:102; Hilchos Maaser Kesafim 3:16 footnote 76 in name of Rav Moshe Shternbuch; Shut Rav Akiva Yosef 149; See regarding that even a pauper who lives off charity must donate to charity if he can afford it: Michaber Y.D. 248:1; Shach 248:1 [that only applies if can afford, as he has precedence over others as rules Michaber 251:3]; Pesakim Uteshuvos 248:1 See regarding separating Maaser from received charity money: Pela Yoeitz Erech Maaser [is to separate]; See regarding that a pauper may choose to use the charity money for whatever he wants: Rama O.C. 694:2; Bava Metzia 78b; Rashba 2:315; Beis Yosef C.M. 253; Biur Hagr”a 253:18; Shvus Yaakov 1:77; M”B 694:9; Igros Moshe Y.D. 1:152; Tzedaka Umishpat [Bloy] 9:10 footnote 34; Pesakim Uteshuvos 256:18; See regarding that the above is limited to only matters that one can assume the donors do not mind one using their charity money for: Chavos Yair 232; Maavor Yabok Sifsei Renanos 22; Chasam Sofer E.H. 1:132; Sefer Chassidim 1053; Pesakim Uteshuvos 256:18; See regarding that a Baal Chov cannot collect his debt from charity money given to pauper for his basic expenses: Michaber Y.D. 253:12; See also Michaber C.M. 241:5; See regarding separating Maaser from money gifts given for a specific purpose: Tzedaka Umishpat [Bloy] 9:10 footnote 34; Chikreiy Lev Tzedaka 2:102 and Mishpat Utzedaka 5:5 footnote 26 who depends this on whether the receiver may choose to use the money for something else, and if the giver stipulated that he wants him to use the full amount for the purchase, and concludes that in normal circumstances the giver is not Makpid and hence Maaser should be separated; See also Orchos Rabbeinu 2:138 in name of Chazon Ish writes that if one was given cash, he must separate Maaser even if given for a specific purpose; So also writes Derech Emunah 7:67 in name of Chazon Ish; Pesakim Uteshuvos ibid; Rav Elyashiv is quoted to rule that one is not obligated to separate Maaser from this money. [See Sefer Maaser Kesafim 3:10] If, however, the giver explicitly stipulated with the receiver that he may only use the money for that specific purpose, then he may not separate Maaser from it. [Implication of Chikreiy Lev and Mishpat Utzedaka ibid; Teshuvos Vihanhagos 3:282; Sefer Maaser Kesafim 3:11]; See Pesakim Uteshuvos 249:24 [Upelah that he does not discuss our case of removing Maaser from charity funds]; See Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:2:112; Avnei Yashpei Y.D. 191:2; Chayey Halevi 2:63;  See regarding exempting a Yeshiva Bochur from separating Maaser from his parents pocket money: Orchos Rabbeinu 1:295; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 3:282; Shaareiy Tzedek 8:22 in name of Rav Elyashiv; Pesakim Uteshuvos 249:26 See regarding that a pauper may keep the leftover charity funds: Michaber Y.D. 253:6


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