The Maaser, what is it?
Tzedakah is a well-known Mitzvah that we fulfil every day, but in fact compiles seven different Mitzvoth of the Torah.
Maimonides explains that Tzedakah is the Mitzvah that we must preserve more than any other. (Hilkhot Matanot Aniyim, Chapter 10, paragraph 1)
This Mitzvah, which is equivalent in itself to all the Mitzvoth of the Torah, reaches its excellence and perfection when it is structured by the Maasser. (Tractate Baba Batra 9a)
The Mitzvah of Maasser involves giving to Tzedakah 10% (or even 20%) of all earnings and monthly or annual incomes (with a precise accounting), this money being spent primarily for the needy and for the support of the Torah.
Thus precisely, this precious Mitzvah can bring us extraordinary treasures, namely:
- Health (Midrash Rabbah Chir Hashirim, Chapter 6, paragraph 11)
- Wealth (Tractate Derech Eretz Zota, paragraph 4)
- Success in the education of children (Tractate Baba Batra, page 9)
- And still countless blessings (The Vilna Gaon, Mishlei, chapter 10, verse 12).
Manage one’s Tzedakah by Maasser is in fact considering Hashem as a partner, and bringing the Divine Presence in one’s business (Chafetz Chaim, Ahavat Chesed).
Indeed, to put aside systematically 10 or 20% of one’s incomes is to recognize and realize that all our financial success is only due to the Divine Providence.
Dedicate a percentage of one’s financial success to support the Torah and to comfort the needy, is actually to declare that we are ready to manage the money that Hashem has given us with this divine will.
Thus, this so powerful Mitzvah may defy (so to speak) the laws of universe. Indeed, the Vilna Gaon explains that giving 10% of one’s incomes to Tzedakah, we have the guarantee of being fully reimbursed, whereas giving 20%, we have the guarantee to enrich us. (Keter Rosh, paragraph 123)
More than that, the only area in which we have permission and the ability to "test" the Divine Providence, so to say, to check that the Divine promises will come true, it is precisely in the domain of Maasser. (Tractate Taanit 9a, Shulchan Aruch Yore Dea 247, paragraph 4)