- Question: [Tuesday, 21st Teves 5781]
Rabbi, I learn in Yeshiva and receive a monthly stipend from my parents to use as spending money. My question is whether I’m obligated to take off 10% for Maaser from this money or perhaps I’m even not allowed to do so as my parents gave it to me with intent for me to use for my personal needs.
Absent of any explicit intent from your parents of how the money should be used, you may/should separate Maaser from the funds that you were given, just as is the law by any present, so long as it will not require you to ask for more money from your parents as a result, and you are able to provide for yourself for your basic needs even if the 10% is removed from Maaser. If, however, your parents explicitly stipulated for you to use all the money only for your basic needs, or if you know that there is not enough money for your basic needs if you were to give 10%, then you may not do so. Obviously, you may choose to discuss this with your parents and ask them if they give you permission to separate Maaser from the money that they give you even though you are not obligated to do so and they are not obligated to agree if they indeed intend to give me a few for a specific purpose.
Explanations: The Achronim explicitly rule that dowry money needs to have Maaser removed, and thus we see that ideally even money given to children from their parents for the sake of their needs is considered like a regular income that requires Maaser to be removed. Nonetheless, the Poskim of today explained that the above only applies if the parents did not stipulate how the money should be used and thus gave it to him as a present to use as he sees fit. [This is similar to a weekly allowance which is basically a present from the parents to their children without any specific intent of use, and hence requires Maaser to be removed.] However, if the money was given not as a present but for the specific purpose of covering basic expenses of their child then it is considered that all the money was given for this purpose and therefore one may not use it for purposes outside of that intent, including Maaser. [This is similar to a parent giving his child money to purchase a shirt in which case Maaser may not remove from that money as it is against the intent of the giver.]
Sources: See regarding separating Maaser from dowry money: Taz 331:32; Sheilas Yaavetz 1:6; Aruch Hashulchan 249:6; Teshuvah Meahavah 1:87; Peas Hasadeh 49; see regarding the caveats to this ruling and that it does not apply in the case that the money was given with specific intent: 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