What is Maaser?
The commandment of Maaser is to take 10% of one’s earnings to supportthe needy or an association disseminating the teachings of Torah.
Is it mandatory to give the Maaser?
According to most decision-makers, the removal of Maaser on earnings is not an obligation; this deduction is only required for harvest and cattle. This is a custom and a practice that our ancestors have adopted on their own initiative.
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein stresses this is good to take Maaser not only on earnings but also on the time available to devote to worthy causes.
What is the biblical source of Maaser?
Maaser is reported by Tosaphot (Taanit 9a) on the verse "Asser Taasser" (Devarim 14-22), quoting sources in the Midrash. Moreover, Yaakov Avinu, already, used and felt the need to take Maaser not only from its various benefits, but also fromhis offspring. See Berechit, chapter 28, verse 22.
Our Sages say in the Midrash that he decided to devote "tenth of his children" to the service ofHashem– the tribe of Levi – who will devote to the service of Beth Hamikdash and teaching of the precepts of Torah.
Yaakov Avinu had 12 children but actually 14 tribes, as the sons of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, had the same status as the rest of the tribes. They were born from four different mothers. Therefore each mother had a firstborn son, devoted, anyway, to the service ofHashem. Thus, of the 10 remaining, Yaakov had set Levi aside.
Who to give Maaser first?
Maaser is intended to the needy. If it is possible to give it to people in need who study Torah, this is preferable.
Do we takeMaaser on the gross or net salary?
Maaser should be taken from the net salary and certain amounts included on the payroll. For additional information, you should contact a Rabbi. To be accompanied specifically in your calculation, please visit www.Maaser.com
If my financial situation is difficult, what additional costs is it possible to deduct?
If your financial situation does not allow you to give 10% of your income, sum all expenditure [rent, bills: gas-electricity-phone-insurance-home, ticket for getting to work, food, clothing] and deduct it from your income. Maaser will be calculated on the difference. To be accompanied specifically in your calculation, please visit www.Maaser.com
Should we take Maaser on an object received as a gift?
No. (MishnehHalakhot [Tinyana] 2-245)
Can we buy Torah books with money from Maaser?
Yes, if we respect the three conditions as follows:
A / we must lend them to anyone who wants to study and announce it in our environment and in theBeth Haknesset that we frequent;
B / our financial situation does not allow us to buy them with another money available than Maaser;
C / it must be mentioned on the books they were purchased with money from Maaser (Chout Beth Dino ShelShlomo).
I have debts; can I deduct them from my earnings to calculate my Maaser?
No, the fact of having to pay off debts cannot meet the obligation to take Maaser on the amount earned (Beora'hTzedakah 9-21).
However, if the amount you owe is large enough, you do not have the obligation to takeMaaser since you areyourself in need. See next answer and Beora'hTzedakah, Chapter 9, Note 27.
Who is Maaser-exempt?
The obligation to withdraw Maaser is in effect only for a person with sufficient income to provide for her family: clothing, telephone, electricity fees, rents, repayment ofdebt, vacations, food costs, school fees, car , insurance, etc.
Can I give my Maaser to my sister to help her get married?
If your sister or your parents are in need, it is quite possible and even desirable. If they are not in need, it is better to give the money that you have to really needy or for the dissemination of Torah.
Should we take Maaser from a sum that our parents give us to help us financially?
If your parents give you money to buy a specific article or to a specific purpose, it is forbidden to takeMaaser from it. (ChoutTeshouvotVeanhagot Volume 3, Responsa 282;Chout Peat Sadekha Volume 1, Yore Dea 49; Iguerot Moshe, Yore Dea Volume 2, Chapter 112)
If money can be used however you like, we must take Maaser. (RabbeinuYona, Sefer Ayra 213)
Is Maaser an important Mitzvah?
Needless to say that this is a very important Mitzvah. Whoever accomplishes it deserves to be widely blessed.
Should I take Maaser from occasional tips?
If you are used to takeMaaserfrom all the amounts you earn, you are obliged to do so when it concerns tips.
How often should we give Maaser (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly)?
Given that most wages are paid monthly, the practice is to take one’sMaaser every month, but this is not mandatory. It is possible to set 3 or 4 times during the year, the key point is to set a time in order not to miss the fulfilment of this Mitzvah.
Is Maaser a Segula to become rich?
Yes. See Talmud (Taanit 9a). Care must be taken to make a precise calculation. (Min’hatTzvi 3-1)
According to the Vilna Gaon, this is valid only if 20% is taken. But this opinion is quite amazing because in the Talmud, wealth is promised to the one who gives 10%. See Beora'hTzedakah, Chapter 1, Note 25.
Can I take my Maaser in Shekels knowing that I get my pay in Euros?
Can I give my Maaser to my father who is Collelman, although he is not in a so “precarious” situation?
If Maaser allows him to live more at ease, it is for him to be given it. See ShulchanAruch–Yore Dea, Chapter 251, Halacha 3.
Can we use the Maaser money to donate to a synagogue or pay a Mitzvah, whichmight have bought on Shabbos?
Making a donation to the synagogue is allowed with money from Maaser. It is also possible to use it to pay for the purchase of a Mitzvah in the synagogue if we havethought about at the time of sale [e.g. opening Hekhal, Sefer Torah carriage, Holakha, Hagbaha, Rimonim,ascent to the Torah, etc. – See HalikhotShlomo, Tefillah, Chapter 12, Passage 19]. But for this you have to think, at the time of Maaserlevy [or at least once a year], the money will be used to purchase the Mitzvot involved.
Can you buy an item with money from Maaser and offer it to a Mikvah or a synagogue?
Yes, this is allowed. Needless to say that this is an object that will be used in the activities of the synagogue or the Mikvah.
Can I reduce my Maaser giving 10% instead of 20% that I gave previously?
If you thought the 20% levy was an obligation, you can reduce the rate without making HataratNedarim (annulment of vows) if you are no more able to follow this path.
By contrast, if you knew that it was a 'Humra(measure of piety) or an optional Mitzvah (which is the case), you are obliged to carry outHataratNedarim to reduce the rate of your Maaser.
Is it allowed to give Maaser to one’s parents?
If your parents are in need, it is for them to be given Maaser. See ShulchanAruch - Yore Dea, Chapter 251, Halakha 3.
Should we take Maaser from family allowances or from a perceived amount for parental leave?
Yes. These are whollygains.
I sold my apartment, is the capital gain subject to Maaser?
I have real estate income since I rent my apartment. What aboutMaaser?
Real estate income are wholly gains, thus we must take Maaser from them. But it is possible to deduct the costs incurred [management, repairs, taxes, etc.] before calculating Maaser.
However, if the amount of rent received [A] is used to pay the rent for another house [B]:
- If A is less than B, it is not required to takeMaaser.
- If A is greater than B, only the difference is subject to the obligation of Maaser. (ChevetHakehati [Responsa] 6-344)
Can I pay school fees with money from Maaser?
According to the ShulchanAruch (Chapter 251, Paragraph 3), we have the right to use the Maaser money to pay the school fees of one’s children provided that they have at least 6 years, which is considered as Tzedakah (Yabia Omer, Yore Dea 58, 45). Having said that, it is better to use this money to support the needy if one is in a comfortable financial situation.
Can I buy an airline ticket to my sister with money from Maaser knowing that she can not afford for it and she comes to Israel for the Bar Mitzvah of my nephew?
Maaser is reserved for the needy with the constant need to rely on aid. If your sister matches more or less the above criteria, it is possible to use your Maaser to enable her to make the trip involved.
Is it allowed to make a SiyumMassekhet with money from Maaser?
It is best to avoid using money from Maaserfor this purpose. However, if the meal or snack has to be cancelled because of this decision [which would be surprising], it is permitted to use money from Maaser for this purpose. In that event, it is well to invite one or two needy to this meal [but it is not mandatory] or organize the Siyum in a place where people are studying [a Collelforinstance].
Can we use theMaasermoney to support IDF soldier?
Thisis allowed if the soldier is in need.
Can we use theMaaser money for the Mitzvot of Purim (Mishte, Mishloa’hManot, MatanotLaevyonim)?
It is impossible to fulfil any obligations with money from Maaser. Thus, it is forbidden to use it for the first Mishloa’hManot and the first two MatanotLaevyonim (MagenAvraham 694, 1, on behalf of ShlaHakadosh). In contrast, we can use the Maasermoney to offer additional Mishloa’hManot and MatanotLaeviyonim. See Mishnah Berurah, Chapter 694, Passage 3.
Can we give less Maaser in order to save money to get married?
If you need to put money aside for your wedding, you can reduce (or even temporarily suspend) your Maaser. It is even possible to sell a Sefer Torah to marry (Even Haezer 1, 2). In addition, a person in difficulties is not obliged to give Maaser. Of course, this is the case for a person who must pay her marriage or installation without necessarily having the means.