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Spending Maaser Money On...

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#1 ilavHashem



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Posted 14 October 2012 - 08:08 PM

would a girl be able to use her maaser money to buy more tznius clothing for herself if she is trying to be more tznius?

what about at functions that are for tzedaka...like a bake sale?

#2 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 02:13 PM

You can't spend your Maaser money on Tzniusdik clothing. The reason is, you cannot spend Maaser money on something you are obligated to do anyway, such as a Lulav, Esorg, for example. Tzniusdik clothing is in the same category.

Besides that, Tzniusdik clothing is the fulfillment of a negative Mitzvah (dressing improperly), not a positive one. Therefore, buying Tzniusdik clothing with Maaser money would be like buying kosher food with Maaser money for someone who is trying to keep Kosher better. That's not how Maaser money is used.

As far as bake sales and the like, if you are buying a cake and the money goes to Tzedaka, you must calculate the difference between the amount that you would have paid for the cake without the Tzadaka factor and deduct that from the actual cost of the cake. Teh remainder is maaser. For example:

Say you buy a cake is for $20 and the money goes all to Tzedaka. If the money would not have gone to Tzedaka, you would have paid $15 for the cake. You can deduct $5 off maaser.

#3 shaya



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Posted 17 October 2012 - 11:55 PM

isnt maaser one mitzvah and giving it for tzedakah another? i remember being told that a person (in need, even not in desperate need but who can use the money for himself) can take maaser and then take the money and use it for whatever he needs the money for, this person is considered a poor person who needs the money just as much as the other guy, am i in the wrong here rabbi?
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#4 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 08:00 AM

Yes, Maaser and Tzaedaka are two different Mitzvos.

Whether a very poor person is obligated to Maaser is a disagreement in the Poskim. This partly stems from a disagreement whether Maaser is (a) D'Oraisa, (b.) D'Rabbonnon or © a Minhag.

Maaser can be spent on a broader range of causes than Tzedaka. Tzedaka must be given only to poor people. You cannot support a Yeshiva with it (unless the recipients are qualified to take Tzedaka; you cannot buy a Sefer Torah for a Shul; you cannot build a Mikveh; and you cannot donate Seforim to your Shul. You must give Tzedaka to poor people.

Maaser, on the other hand, can be given to a broad range of Torah causes (all of the above are among them), but even regarding Maaser, there are priorities and you should give most of your Maaser to "priority" causes. The exact hierarchy is beyond the scope of this post.

However, everyone agrees you cannot pay debts with Maaser. That means you cannot pay your electric bill or your grocery bill or your Esrog dealer. You can only give Maaser to something that you are not otherwise obligated to give.

If a poor person is told he does not have to give Maaser, then he can do with it whatever he wants. He simply does not have an obligation to give.