Maaser Kesafim / Tzedaka The 20% Ceiling

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    What about a person who wants to give more than 20% to tzedaka? Is that a problem? If so, why?

    On 67:b in Kesuvos a story is recounted of Mar Ukva giving away half of his money to tzedaka while on his deathbed.

    I fount the following posted on the halachafortoday site:

    The Chofetz Chaim enumerated six exceptions to the aforementioned rule, instances where one may (and is encouraged to, and sometimes required to) spend beyond the 20% of his/her net worth, as follows:

    a) In situations of life and death, one must spend down to his/her last penny to save a life.

    b) In an area where poor people are prevalent, one may spend more than usual to help feed them.

    c) An extremely wealthy person may spend beyond 20% of his/her worth, as doing so will still leave them with plenty of money to live comfortably.

    d) One who gets a weekly paycheck from which they sustain themselves, may use the remainder for Tzedakah, after purchasing their weekly needs, even if that amount is more than 20% of the paycheck.

    e) To support Torah learning, one is allowed to spend above the 20% (See Shita Mekubetzes Kesubos ibid.)

    f) One who in any case spends beyond their means for unnecessary items, and buys every vain item that strikes their fancy, may do the same for Mitzvah expenditures, even to the point of spending much more than 20%

    (Chofetz Chaim in Ahavas Chesed Vol. 2 Perek 20. See also Derech Emunah from rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita Hilchos Matnas Aniyim, Perek 7 Os 26)

    Any thoughts from the oilam on this?

    (halevai the many ba’alei tzedaka of our community should have this shaila).

    tomim tihye

    What if one has debts (not just mortgage) to pay off? Should he give ma’aser while accruing interest on debts?


    to tomin tihye

    1) I’ve heard or read can’t remember, that a rav paskinded ppl should get rid of all debt (besides morgage and financed cars etc) before giving tzedaka

    2) if a person has no money to give, he can give masser to a poor person who then gives “his masser” back to you. so the 2 of you gave masser but didn’t lose anything.

    3) you can technically give yourself masser, although it’s the least preferred method

    4) ppl don’t know this but, there is no chiav no give masser outside of Israel at all! as a matter of fact i don’t know if the promise of wealth would even apply.


    Just to get an idea of some of the questions and opinions out there please see:



    In many cases confirmable mekoros are given.


    I can only try

    you can start by looking at gemara shabbos 119A

    look at halachos sefarim, where we paskin it’s mostly a minhag, if you need me to quote the halacha sefarim let me know.



    The gemara in Shabbos has Reb Yishmoel ben Rebbe Yosse attributing the wealth of those in Eretz Yisroel to the maaser they give. He attribute the wealth of those in Bavel to their honoring of the Torah. Those in other countries who merit wealth, he attributes to the honor they give Shabbos.

    A couple of points:

    1) He says maaser, not maaser kesafim.

    2) He doesn’t say maaser brings wealth exclusively in Eretz Yisroel, kavod haTorah only in Bavel, and kavod Shabbos only in other countries. He is just giving this as the reason for rich peoples wealth in those countries.

    look at halachos sefarim, where we paskin it’s mostly a minhag…

    The first link in the prior post mentions that many poskim say that maaser kesafim started as a minhag, and gives mekoros.

    He continues “However, for one who already has the custom to give Maaser, it is already a strong obligation for him/her , and is like a Neder (biblical oath) which is much more severe than a D’Rabanan. (In Shu”t Sheilas Ya’avetz Vol. 1 Siman 6 he writes that one who gave Maaser even once (!) it is already like a Neder and one must continue doing so always)


    One who now gives Ma’aser based on the aforementioned fact that his parents gave, can not be Matir Neder (absolve him/herself of this obligation) as he/she is doing so based on “Al Titosh Toras Imecha” and not based on a Neder. (Based on Sefer Ahavas Chesed from the Chofetz Chaim)

    2) According to many Poskim, today’s days (B’Zman HaZeh) when we do not practice “Ma’aser Tvuah- tithing of grain”, it is obligatory on each and every individual to practice “Ma’aser Kesafim- tithing of income” (Shla HaKadosh Chulin Inyan masa Umatan B’Emunah, Netziv in He’emek Shaila Parshas Korach Sheilta 132:1, Derech Emunah from Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita Hilchos Matnas aniyim Perek 7: Sif Katan 73 in the name of the Chazon Ish. This was also the opinion of the Steipler (in Kraina D’Igrasa Vol. 1 Os 189) and Rav Eliezer Menachem Man Shach Zatzal (Michtavim U’Maamarim Vol. 3 page 78) who always stressed to all who asked them the extreme importance of giving Ma’aser) as well as many other contemporary Poskim .See also Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah Vol. 1 Siman 143)

    The origin may well have been minhag, but the above rabonim are saying it’s a chiyuv nowadays.

    One must ask their own rav about halacha lemaiseh.


    Good stuff i will call you rabbi I can only try

    like everything else it’s a machlakos, as far as the gemarah if masser applied outside e”y the gemarah would have answered the question as such. “why are ppl wealthy outside e”y? answer they give masser as well” if masser on money is an obligation that would have been the answer even if they were talking about things that grow.

    the following hold it’s not a darrasa 1) maharil tshuva 54 as well as 56, 2) rav chaim yosef david azulai, 3) rav yechiel michal epstein. others hold it’s just a minhag 1) rav meir rothenburg teshuva 131, 2) rav yoel sirkes, 3) dayan weiss, 4) rav shlomo zalman auerbach.

    for the record i always say bli neder so i can stop if c”v i have to.

    on a side note ppl don’t realize masser and tzedaka are 2 different things, tzedaka is darrasa and an absolute must, but not masser.

    ps if according to thoise that holds masser is darrasa why isn’t the promise coming true? the promise is we won’t be able to say stop enough times, even the wealthy ppl are not THAT wealthy!! and you can’t say anything that will include 100% of klay yisroel, there is no one now or ever before that was so wealthy they said enough already!


    absolutely NO difference btw EY and Chutz l’Aretz



    so how do you learn gemarah shabbos that implies there is a huge difference?



    I don’t agree that the reasons Reb Yishmoel ben Rebbe Yosse give for the ashirus of people in different locations means that those reasons apply only in those locations. Also, I don’t think we generally derive halachos from statements made in agadita gemara.

    if according to those that holds masser is darrasa why isn’t the promise coming true?

    That is a question which is asked in a lot of different forms; about shluchai mitzva who are hurt (financially or physically) among other mitzvos with specific rewards promised. That’s a hashkafa question, better answers by a rov or talmid chochom.

    I didn’t quote any specific rabonim as proof-of-psak, just to show that this is an issue that is complex and has disagreements among various poskim. This is why it’s necessary to ask your rov if you have a shailah.

    …i will call you rabbi I can only try

    Thank you, but that isn’t even close to reality. The knowledgeable and erudite portions of my postings, italicized above, were cut-and-pasted from the “halachafortoday” site.


    I can only try

    wow you’re humble and honest too, hope your spouse appreceates.

    although you can ask why on a lot of things, this is one thing that hashem says test me! so it’s very hard to understand why he’s failing his test?

    also when i test you, and you fail i get something, when hashem says test me what do we get if he does fail?

    as far as ask a rav why it appears the bracha doesn’t work, i have and they doin’t have an answer, the aruch hashulchan says he doesn’t know why it doesn’t work as well.

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