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Section: Questions   Category: Money Matters
  A r c h i v e s
Money Matters - maaser or debt?
Submitted by anonymous  Answered by Rav Yehonoson Hool
Answer: If he is not using the income to pay off the debts, he should take ma’aser from it (and any money that he puts in savings) unless separating ma’aser will cause him not to pay off his debts, in which case he should first pay off his debts.
posted:2010-02-19 09:22:55  (0) comments   email to a friend

Money Matters - Maasser
Submitted by shani  Answered by Rav Yehonoson Hool

The general rule is that anything which is obligatory cannot be paid with ma’aser money, whereas voluntary contributions may be given from ma’aser.

When it comes to children’s education, some Poskim hold that for young boys, since their education is an obligation upon their parents, it cannot be paid from ma’aser, whereas for girls and older boys, since the obligation for their education does not fall on the parents, the costs can be paid from ma’aser. Nonetheless, if the child is studying in a yeshivah or such like that has a dormitory, since the costs of food and board are an obligation upon the father, he cannot pay that portion of the tuition from ma’aser money.

However, Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe YD 2:113) rules that nowadays since education is government-mandated, tuition becomes an obligatory cost and cannot be paid from ma’aser money. Nonetheless, he writes that any tuition costs above what is expected from a person of his means a person may pay from ma’aser money; furthermore R’ Yaakov Blau (Tzedaka Umishpot 11 footnote 35) writes that it is commendable to gives one’s ma’aser money to an institution in which one’s children study.

posted:2009-11-23 15:12:39  (0) comments   email to a friend

Money Matters - Tzedaka For Therapy
Submitted by anonymous  Answered by Rav Yehonoson Hool

The general rule is that a person is considered "poor," and may accept charity (such as ma'aser money) for their expenses even if they have savings, as long as these savings are only for basic requirements.

Someone who has additional savings for things like a car etc would probably not be regarded as an "Oni" – a poor person.

posted:2009-08-23 16:10:31  (0) comments   email to a friend

Money Matters - Charity
Submitted by Ryan  Answered by Rav Yehonoson Hool

The general rule of thumb with regards to ma'aser kesafim is that all expenses that are directly accrued to enable one's generation of income can be deducted from the reckoning of one's income with regard to ma'aser.

So for example, if one rents an office for one's work, the cost of upkeep of the office, including rent, insurance and so on are all income-associated costs that may be offset against one's income when calculating one's overall income. If one commutes to work, or if one's car is used for work, one can deduct those costs as well. However, if one uses a car for private use not associated with work, one cannot reckon the running costs as a business expense.
In your example, if one earns $100,000 and one has expenses on an investment property of $20,000 the tax office will only assess $80,000 of income. So too with calculations for tzedaka, you need only give 10% of $80,000.

Incidentally, as a general rule with regard to ma'aser kesafim, in order to avoid problems of nedarim, one should declare at the outset that by giving ma'aser one intends not to oblige oneself with any nedarim.

posted:2009-06-09 22:38:19  (0) comments   email to a friend

Money Matters - Obligation to stop giving?
Submitted by anonymous  Answered by Rav Yehonoson Hool
Answer: One is not permitted to give away more than one fifth of one’s possessions to tzedakkah. This is because there is a concern that one may oneself become poor and would then need to take charity from others. Therefore, a very wealthy man may give more than a fifth to charity if it is extremely unlikely that he will become impoverished.

Further, some poskim permit giving away more than a fifth if there is a poor person standing in front of you. In other words, it is only forbidden to give away more than a fifth if the money is being set aside for charity and is not being given away immediately, but in a case where a particular poor person requests money at this moment one may give away more. Your case, in which you are dealing with particular families that are relying on you, can be considered as just such a circumstance.

Also, in order to support needy Talmidei Chachomim, one may give away more than a fifth – this is considered an investment as any other (if not a better investment!).

[There are several other circumstances in which one may give away more than a fifth of one’s possessions to charity, such as on one’s deathbed. Furthermore, the Chafetz Chaim suggests that one who wastes his assets on unnecessary luxuries may well be permitted to give more than a fifth to charity, since the money would otherwise go to waste anyway!]

There are some Poskim who permit giving away more than a fifth of one’s earnings to tzedakkah (indeed the Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 149:1) seems to permit it if one can afford it, with the Remo”h forbidding it, so perhaps there is more room for Sephardim, who follow the rulings of the Shulchan Aruch, to be lenient). Apparently, when Rav Yosef Sholom Elyashiv was asked he replied that he permits it. When he is summoned to the Heavenly Court, he added, he will present his Halachic reasoning for this ruling. If it is accepted, well and good, and if not – he is willing to accept upon himself the consequences!
posted:2009-01-12 00:35:21  (0) comments   email to a friend

Money Matters - Maaser
Submitted by anonymous  Answered by Rav Yehonoson Hool
Answer: With regard to the free gift from a charity organization, it seems to me that one should estimate how much one would have paid for the gift by itself, which one then pays out of one’s own pocket, and then the rest can come from ma’aser money. For example if the organization gives a silver cup to anyone who donates $200, and one would pay for such a cup $20, one should give $20 from one’s own money, and then one may give the other $180 from ma’aser money.


One may purchase a lottery ticket from a tzedakkah organisation with ma’aser money. But one should make the following calculation. How much would I have been willing to pay for the ticket had the proceeds not gone to tzedakkah? That amount should come from his own pocket and the remainder may be paid from ma’aser money. For example, if the ticket cost $10, and had the proceeds not gone to tzedakkah he would have been willing to pay $6 for the ticket, he should pay $6 from his own pocket, and may pay the remaining $4 from ma’aser money.

If one wins a prize, one should preferably return to tzedakkah the value of the ticket purchased. As for the rest of the value of the prize, don’t forget to take ma’aser from that and give it to tzedakkah!

(R’ Moshe Feinstein rules as follows: If there are a fixed number of tickets in the lottery, then there must be a value for each ticket based on the probability of winning, and if the asking price is not much greater than the actual value, such that even one who has no interest in supporting the charity would buy a ticket for that price, one may not purchase the ticket with ma’aser money. If, however, there is no fixed limit to how many tickets will be sold, one cannot fix any value to any single ticket, and thus one may purchase the ticket with ma’aser money.)

If one paid the whole value of the ticket with ma’aser money, and one wins a prize, R’ Chaim Kanievsky (Derech Emunah, Matnas Aniyim 7 paragraph “ve’echad me’asarah…”) is of the opinion that the entire prize belongs to tzedakkah, as is R’ Yisroel Yaakov Fisher (Even Yisrael II 64). However, R’ Yaakov Blau (Tzedakkah Umishpot 1:(84)) permits one to pay for the ticket with ma’aser money if one cannot make the above calculation – if one wins a prize, though, one should return the cost of the ticket to tzedakkah as explained above, and tithe the rest of the prize too.
posted:2009-01-12 00:33:38  (0) comments   email to a friend

Money Matters - Stolen Tzedaka Check
Submitted by anonymous  Answered by Rav Yehonoson Hool

a) If the agent was a representative of the charity organization, it could well be argued that the money is considered to have been given over to them (even though it has not yet left your account - if a borrower repays his debt with a cheque, which subsequently gets stolen from the creditor, we would not expect the borrower to pay the creditor again). A claim against the agent will probably be unsuccessful according to the Halachah. If the thief then withdraws the money, the money lost is lost to ma'aser. If however, you manage to cancel the cheque, it turns out that no money actually left your account, so you would still have to pay the money to tzeddakah. Nonetheless, you can deduct the cost of cancelling the cheque. This is because if you don't cancel it, the organization will not get the money at all, as mentioned above, so it is assumed that the organisation would be willing to compensate you for stopping the cheque, because that way they gain the difference that you will give them afterwards from the sum that never left your account.

If the agent was not a representative of the charity organization but rather your own shaliach to pass the cheques to the organization, then even if the thief managed to cash the cheque you would still owe money to tzedakkah, since the tzedakkah never received anything. However, you need not pay out the full amount of the stolen cheque to tzedakkah. Instead, you may count this theft as a loss of earnings, and deduct that from your account of income, and adjust your ma'aser account accordingly.

b) In general, one makes an account of all one's income, deducts one expenses and pays 10% of the difference to tzedakkah. Expenses includes any expenses that resulted from the pursuit of profit, such as employees' wages, rental of offices, insurance, taxes etc, and any losses such as theft or damage that was not caused by one's own recklessness. Not included in expenses in this regard, are expenses that are not related to the attempt to make money, such as home insurance, food, car used for private use etc.

Since in your case the money lost came from the income/expense account, as pointed out above you can consider this as a loss of earnings, and thus this would offset the subsequent gain of . (It's worth noting, however, that when making a reckoning of expenses and profit for ma'aser purposes, each year must be reckoned differently - one should not include one year's losses to offset the next year's profits.)

posted:2009-01-07 00:19:00  (0) comments   email to a friend

Money Matters - Can I give this mezuzah to tzedakah?
Submitted by anonymous  Answered by Rav Yehonoson Hool
Answer: Not only are you allowed to give the first mezuzah to a poor person, your declared intention to so do may well constitute a Neder L'Tzedakah, in which case you would be obliged to give it to a poor person.
posted:2008-12-09 13:15:28  (0) comments   email to a friend

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