Must one take Maaser off the value of a present that he was given or inherited?

Must one take Maaser off the value of a present that he was given or inherited?[1]

  • One received presents in honor of his wedding, or birthday, is Maaser to be deducted from it or its value?
  • One was given a diamond ring as a present from their mother or grandmother, is Maaser to be deducted from its value?
  • One inherited many objects from a deceased parent or relative, is Maaser to be deducted from its value?

Cash presents and gifts and inheritance:[2] The Mitzvah and custom of giving Maaser from one’s income applies likewise towards money that one inherited or was given as a present. Even if one was given the money for a specific purpose, he is to separate Maaser from the money.[3] 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.[4]  

Non-Cash presents and gifts, including real estate: Ideally, the Mitzvah of giving 1/10th of one’s profits towards charity applies also towards non-cash gifts and presents that one has received, including real estate.[5] The same applies towards items of inheritance. Practically, however, the custom is not to deduct Maaser from non-cash presents that one receives, including real estate that one was given as a gift or inheritance.[6] Nonetheless, this only applies so long as one keeps the item for his personal use, however, if one sells the item, then he is to distribute Maaser from his earnings.[7]  

 

Summary:

One is to give Maaser from all cash that he inherited or was given as a present. The custom is not to deduct Maaser from non-cash presents that one receives, unless one sells the item, in which case he is to distribute Maaser from his earnings.  

 

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[1] See Mishpat Utzedaka 5:5; Sefer Maaser Kesafim 3:5-6; Pesakim Uteshuvos 249:24

[2] So rule regarding a present/Matana: Implication of Rabbeinu Yonah in Sefer Hayirah 213; Chikreiy Lev Tzedaka 2:102; Mishpat Utzedaka 5:5; Sefer Maaser Kesafim 3:5; Pesakim Uteshuvos ibid

So rule regarding Yerusha: Shlah Miseches Megillah 27 p. 262; Elya Raba 156:2 in end “We give Maaser from an inheritance even from one’s father”; Pischeiy Teshuvah 249:1; Shiyurei Bracha 249:3; Ahavas Chesed 2:18-3; See Igros Moshe 1:143; Maaser Kesafim 3:19; p. 35; Pesakim Uteshuvos ibid

[3] See 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

Other opinions:  Rav Elyashiv is quoted to rule that one is not obligated to separate Maaser from this money. [See Sefer Maaser Kesafim 3:10]

[4] Implication of Chikreiy Lev and Mishpat Utzedaka ibid; Teshuvos Vihanhagos 3:282; Sefer Maaser Kesafim 3:11

[5] Implication of Sefer Hayirah 213 “Even if he found something or received a present” [See Mishneh Halachos 12:241; Tinyana 2:249]; Implication of Sefer Chassidim 144 “Or from a stolen object” [This means that one found an item that was stolen from him after giving up hope of its retrieval, in which case he is to separate Maaser from its value. See Makor Chesed ibid; Other Mefarshim however write that the word stolen is a misprint and it means to say lost object and thus Sefer Chassidim is saying that one who found a lost item and is allowed to keep it for himself then he is to give Maaser from the value of his findings. See Mefarshim in new print of Sefer Chassidim; Nonetheless, while the implication of Sefer Chassidim is to include also found objects, it is possible to argue that he limits his statement to money]; Ramban on Lech Licha [Bereishis 14:20] that Avraham gave Maaser from all the spoils of war that he took; Sefer Maaser Kesafim 3:6-8 in name of Rav SZ”A; Yad Halevi 2:44; Pesakim Uteshuvos 249:24 in name of Poskim ibid and Chikrei Lev ibid

[6] Yosef Ometz 2:306 “Here [in Farnkfurt] I have witnessed that the custom is not to separate Maaser from real estate that one receives as part of the dowry or inheritance”; Shevet Halevi 5:133 regarding real estate “The custom is not to give Maaser from inheritance of real estate, and we have never heard that one who was given a home or apartment to live in that he must separate Maaser”; Orach Tzedaka p. 351 in name of Rav Wozner; Sheiris Simcha 31, brought in Mishpat Utzedaka 5 footnote 27 that only if he sells must he separate; Orchos Rabbeinu 1:296 in name of Chazon Ish; Derech Emunah Matanos Aniyim 7:67 that so ruled Chazon Ish and so rule the Gedolei Haposkim; Chut Hashani 2:331; Emes Liyaakov 249; Pesakim Uteshuvos 249:24 and Sefer Maaser Kesafim 3:6 that so is custom of world

The reason: As Maaser is given due to the Mitzvah of charity, and there is no obligation for one to sell his items for the sake of Tzedaka. [Orchos Rabbeinu ibid]

Other opinions: Some of todays Poskim conclude that one is required to separate Maaser if he has cash available. [Kol Torah 39:87 in name of Rav SZ”A; So also records Sefer Maaser Kesafim 3:6-8 in name of Rav SZ”A that presents are obligated in Maaser although he is only obligated to give it when he has cash available or sells the item. Likewise, he evaluates the worth of the item based on its cheapest available price, and separate 10% from 2/3 of that price; Shaareiy Tezdek 8:3; Even Yisrael 9:92-13; Pesakim Uteshuvos 249:24] Other Poskim suggest that if the person would have bought the object anyways then he is to separate Maaser, otherwise he is not required to separate. [Mishpat Utzedaka 5 footnote 27]

[7] Sheiris Simcha 31, brought in Mishpat Utzedaka 5 footnote 27; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:560; Pesakim Uteshuvos 249:24 footnote 221; See Sefer Maaser Kesafim 3 footnote 61

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