Halacha for Thursday 30 Sivan 5781 June 10 2021

Question: Are those who customarily donate a tenth of their monthly income to Tzedakah permitted to deduct the cost of providing for their children still living at home from the sum of this ten percent?

Answer: We have previously discussed that one must donate a certain amount of Tzedakah annually. It is a “middle” level for one to give a tenth of one’s monthly profits every month. Now let us deal with our question regarding those who donate a tenth of their monthly profits to Tzedakah; are they permitted to deduct the cost of supporting their older children still at home from the ten percent?

The root of this question lies in the Gemara which tells us that according to the letter of the law, one is not obligated to provide for one’s children who are older than six years old. The obligation to support one’s children above this age is only on the basis of Tzedakah, for one is obligated to donate to those closest to him and since one is obligated to donate Tzedakah, one must by default support one’s children. However, if one does not have the means by which to support them, one is not obligated to according to the letter of the law.

The Gemara in Masechet Ketubot (50a) expounds the verse in Tehillim, “Praiseworthy are those who keep justice and perform righteousness (Tzedakah) at all times.” Is it indeed possible to perform Tzedakah every moment? Our Sages from Yavneh therefore explained that this verse refers to one who supports his young children. This means that when one supports one’s young children above six years of age, although, halachically speaking, one is not required to do so, one fulfills the Mitzvah of Tzedakah by doing so. Similarly, the Rambam (Chapter 5 of Hilchot Matenot Aniyim) writes that when one sustains one’s children whom one is not obligated to according to the letter of the law in order to teach them Torah and educate them along the proper path, this is included in the Mitzvah of Tzedakah.

Based on this, the Maharam of Rottenberg writes in one of his responses that one may likewise act leniently regarding the donation of ten percent of one’s money in that one may deduct from this sum the cost of supporting one’s children above the age of six, for this indeed constitutes the Mitzvah of Tzedakah. Although Maran Ha’Chida disagrees with the opinion of the Maharam of Rottenberg based on Kabbalah and rules that one must donate specifically a tenth of one’s income and because the Poskim say that only a Mitzvah that would not be able to be fulfilled without the Mitzvah of separating a tenth can be fulfilled using the money from the apportioned ten percent, but for something which would have been fulfilled in any event, such as providing for one’s children, money from the ten percent should not be used, nevertheless, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l disagrees with the opinion of Hagaon Chida on this matter and writes that the Halacha indeed follows the Maharam of Rottenberg and one may deduct the cost of supporting one’s children from the ten percent one usually donates. Although there is currently an edict of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel that one must provide for one’s children until they are fifteen years of age, nevertheless, this does not deter one from using money from the ten percent for this cause. It is nevertheless better for one who has given the entire ten percent to Tzedakah until this point to perform the order of “Annulment of Vows” before three people regarding that which one has been accustomed to not using the money from the apportioned ten percent to support one’s children. From that point on, one should specifically stipulate that one will be using these funds for such things as well.

Summary: If one customarily donates ten percent of one’s profits to Tzedakah, one may deduct the cost of providing for one’s children above the age of six from this sum. However, if until this point one has customarily donated the entire ten percent sum to other needy individuals, it is proper for one to perform an “Annulment of Vows” before three people regarding this custom of donating the ten percent specifically to others and from then on, one will be permitted to use these funds for the expenses of one’s children as well. Clearly, this applies only to one who educates one’s children in the correct path of the Torah, for only then is there room to claim that this constitutes the Mitzvah of Tzedakah; however, if one’s children study in secular institutions and the like, this expense cannot be considered Tzedakah at all.

If Hashem has bestowed abundance upon an individual and he is capable of giving Tzedakah besides for the expenses of the members of his household, he should graciously dispense the entire sum of ten percent to the poor, Torah scholars, and yeshivas.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The “Asher Yatzar” Blessing vs. Birkat Hamazon

Question: In the previous Halacha, we have discussed if one becomes obligated to recite an after-blessing on food and before he does so, he uses the facilities and becomes obligated to recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing, one should recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing first and......

Read Halacha

Question: If one becomes obligated to recite an after-blessing after eating any food (for instance, by eating a Kezayit, approximately twenty-seven grams, of fruit) and before reciting the after-blessing, one used the facilities and becomes obligated to recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing, which blessing must one recite first: Should one first recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing or the after-blessing on the food one ate?

Answer: This question has already been discussed by the Maharshal (Rabbeinu Shlomo Luria, one of the foremost Acharonim who lived approximately five-hundred years ago in Eastern Poland and authored the Sefer Yam Shel Shlomo and others) in his responsa (Chapter 97) and writes that if one becomes obli......

Read Halacha

Reciting Birkat Hamazon in the Place One Has Eaten

Question: Is one obligated to recite Birkat Hamazon specifically where one has eaten bread or may one recite this blessing elsewhere? Answer: One who eats a bread meal must recite Birkat Hamazon in the place where one has eaten and one may not go to a different place and recite the blessing there......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Motza’ei Tisha Be’av and the Tenth of Av

Following halachic nightfall on Tisha Be’av which is approximately twenty minutes after sunset (somewhat later in the United States), one is permitted to eat and drink. It is customary to recite Birkat Ha’Levana (blessing on the new moon) following Arvit prayers on Motza’ei Tisha B......

Read Halacha


Havdala on Motza’ei Shabbat Which Coincides with Tisha Be’av and the Laws of an Ill Individual Who Must Eat on Tisha Be’av

On years during which Tisha Be’av falls out on Motza’ei Shabbat, such as this year, 5781, there are three opinions among the Rishonim regarding how Havdala should be recited on a cup of wine on Motza’ei Shabbat. The first opinion is that of the Geonim who write that one should r......

Read Halacha

When Av Begins, We Diminish Our Joy

Yesterday, Shabbat, we marked Rosh Chodesh Av. Next Sunday (beginning from Motza’ei Shabbat), will mark Tisha Be’av. May Hashem soon switch this month to one of joy and celebration. The Jewish Nation’s Fortune During the Month of Av Although we customarily implement some mourn......

Read Halacha

Tisha Be’av Falls Coincides With Motza’ei Shabbat- Clothing for Tisha Be’av

The Baraita in Masechet Ta’anit (30a) states that our Sages prohibited five things on Tisha Be’av: Eating and drinking, washing one’s self, rubbing one’s self with oils or lotions, wearing leather shoes, and marital relations. Our Sages said (Ta’anit 30b): “One......

Read Halacha

Reciting Birkat Hamazon While Travelling by Car

Question: If one is eating while travelling by car, may one recite Birkat Hamazon while continuing to travel? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have explained that our Sages have instituted that one must recite Birkat Hamazon while seated in order for one to have optimum concentration while bles......

Read Halacha