Charity/Tzedaka: What To Give
Buying Seforim To Pay Charity/Tzedaka
You may use tzedaka (ma'aser) money to buy seforim. Because the books then become public property, you must write in the books that they are ma'aser and anyone may use them. You may only do this if other people who are not in your family will also use them.
Note: You may only use tzedaka (ma'aser) money to buy seforim that are not commonly found in Jewish homes; you may not use this money to buy a siddur, chumash, or Talmud.
Jewish Education: Tuition as Charity
Parents may consider as charity any money they spend on the Jewish education of children age 16 and up. If a child goes to a college and takes secular and Jewish classes, the parent may count any tuition for the Jewish classes as charity.
How To Divide Charity Donation
A good split of the total amount to give to charity is:
- 1/3 for Jewish education,
- 1/3 for poor people, and
- 1/3 for humanitarian purposes such as a hospital, mikva, synagogue, or Jewish outreach/kiruv.
Charity to Local Jewish Causes
When giving charity, you should give at least 51% of your donations to local Jewish charities, if there are any that need support. After that, donations to Israel have priority over donations to other locations.
Situation: You have residences in more than one place (for example, you were assigned to work in a new place for a few years) and you need to know which location is to be considered your home for giving charity locally:
- If you kept your first residence and intend to return to it, even after a few years, that remains your halachic home for this purpose (even if you rent out that house to someone else).
- If you do not intend to return to your first residence and you moved to a second city where you earn money, give money to charities in that second city.
- If you made an investment while in that second city and received profits from it while living in a third city, donate to charities in that third city.
- If you donated to a foundation while in the second city but the funds were not distributed until you were in the third city, donate to charities in the third city.
Exception: If you purchased an investment with money that you were supposed to give to charity, your donation should go to where you were when you earned the money from which you owed the charity.
Charity/Tzedaka: Who Should Give
One Who Receives Charity, Gives Charity
A person who receives charity should still give a minimal amount to charity. Doing so gives him or her the benefit of the mitzva of giving charity and serves as an example to his or her children (who should be made aware that the parents are giving money to charity).