Halacha for Wednesday 29 Sivan 5781 June 9 2021

How Much Tzedakah One Must Donate

The Rambam, Tur, and Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch write that the amount one should donate for Tzedakah is, if one can afford it, based on the necessities of the needy people. This means that if one is extremely wealthy and can provide for the needs of poor people in one’s city, one should indeed donate whatever they lack. If one cannot afford this, the most preferable way to perform this Mitzvah is to donate up to one-fifth of one’s money to Tzedakah. However, if one gives a tenth of what one has, this is considered a “middle” level (although not as good as one who gives up to a fifth). Many great and righteous people indeed have the custom to give “a tithe of their money” by donating one-tenth of all of their profits to Tzedakah. If one donates less than a tenth to Tzedakah, one is considered by our Sages to have “a bad eye,” for one only gives others a small amount of his money (i.e. stingy).

The level of giving a fifth is the highest of all and is derived from a verse in the Torah. Indeed, the Tur writes that it is a known and tested fact that one does not lose money by donating Tzedakah; on the contrary, it shall bring one more wealth and honor as the verse states, “Upon beginning to bring the donation to the house of Hashem, eat, be satisfied, and leave over an abundant amount, for Hashem has blessed his nation.” Indeed, our Sages tell us (Shabbat 119a), “Take off tithes so that you shall become wealthy.”

The Gemara in Masechet Ketubot (50a) states: “Rabbi Il’a said: It was established in Usha that one should not donate more than one-fifth of one’s possessions to Tzedakah lest one become dependent on Tzedakah as a result.” Nevertheless, several Poskim write that this only applies to regular individuals; however, an especially wealthy person who wishes to may give more than a fifth of his assets to Tzedakah and he shall be blessed from above. This can be inferred from the Poskim we have quoted above who write that if one has the means, one should provide for the needs of all of the poor in his city and only afterwards did they mention the level of one giving a fifth which is the highest level. We can understand that they were originally referring to a donation of more than one-fifth which applies to an extremely wealthy individual who can provide for the needs of many.

One should not give less than the worth of one-third of a silver shekel per year, for this is the minimum amount of Tzedakah one must give as prescribed by Torah law. If one gives less than this amount, one has not fulfilled one’s obligation of donating Tzedakah. This amounts to the worth of approximately seven grams of pure silver. However, this is clearly a very low level of donating Tzedakah and would the Sages of Israel be in control, one would be forced to give as much as one could afford. Certainly, Hashem shall collect His dues from this person, for as we have said, Hashem pities the downtrodden and hears their prayers. Indeed, a Heavenly voice rings out from Har Sinai daily and cries, “Woe is to the world because of the humiliation of the Torah,” for there are countless Torah scholars who do not have enough money to even live a humble and simple lifestyle. However, if one generously donates money to Tzedakah, especially to G-d-fearing Torah scholars, one’s reward will be great indeed and all sorts of evil decrees shall be nullified for him, for Tzedakah saves from certain death. We see this from the woman from Tzefat who gave a small cake to Eliyahu Ha’Navi and because of this, her son, who was already dead, came back to life and she merited enjoying him for many more years.

There are many other fine details regarding the Mitzvah of Tzedakah and we shall, G-d-willing, address them further.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Proper Way to Immerse Vessels in a Mikveh

One must make certain that there is nothing separating between the vessel one is immersing and the waters of the Mikveh. Thus, when one is immersing a vessel, one must hold the vessel loosely, for if one holds it tight, one’s hand will be separating between the vessel and the waters of the Mik......

Read Halacha

Reading Scripture at Night

Question: May one read chapters of Tanach or Tehillim at night or is this forbidden according to Kabbalah? Is there room for leniency when this reading is being done for the sake of an ill individual or a woman in labor? Answer: Maran Ha’Chida in his Responsa Yosef Ometz (Chapter 54) quotes......

Read Halacha

Question: Do disposable vessels and electric kettles require immersion in a Mikveh?

Answer: In the previous Halachot, we have discussed the general law that any new vessels purchased from a non-Jew must be immersed in a Mikveh before using them. We shall now discuss whether or not disposable vessels require immersion. We have already explained that according to Maran zt”l,......

Read Halacha

Drinking Beverages in a Café or in a Home Where the Vessels have not been Immersed in a Mikveh

Question: May one drink coffee in a friend’s home or in a Café (such as an espresso without milk served in Cafes) when they are not meticulous about immersing their vessels in a Mikveh? Answer: In the Halachot discussed before Tisha Be’av, we have explained that vessels produc......

Read Halacha


The Laws of Fire on Yom Tov

In previous Halachot we have explained that Yom Tov and Shabbat are equal regarding all prohibitions besides for certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking, which are permitted on Yom Tov. Igniting a Flame One may not produce a new fire on Yom Tov, for instance by striking a......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Cooking on Yom Tov

In the previous Halacha, we have explained that although Shabbat and Yom Tov are equal in their prohibition to perform work on them and it is therefore a Torah prohibition to drive a car on Yom Tov, nevertheless, certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking and frying, are permitt......

Read Halacha

Barechu Et Hashem Ha’Mevorach

Question: When the Chazzan recites “Barechu Et Hashem Ha’Mevorach” and the congregation responds “Baruch Hashem Ha’Mevorach Le’Olam Va’ed,” must one rise and bow or is this unnecessary? Answer: Regarding the obligation to rise while answering &ldquo......

Read Halacha

Which Vessels Require Immersion in a Mikveh-Continued

In previous Halachot, we have explained that vessels purchased from a non-Jew, such as those produced outside of Israel, require immersion in a Mikveh before using them. We have also discussed which types of vessels require immersion and which do not. We shall now continue discussing this topic. ......

Read Halacha