From the Rav’s Desk: 1) Maaser money for secular study school supplies 2) Tzedaka for Yizkor; 3) Paskening before age 40

  1. Question: [Wednesday, 12th Tishreiy 5781]
May one use Maaser money for purchasing school supplies used during secular studies?
Seemingly yes, as a) it assists the students in their education for purposes of future Parnasa and b) It is mandatory in schools of which lack thereof can force the school to close, and jeopardize the learning of Torah.
Sources: See Mishneh Halachos 10:159 who debates this matter
  1. Question: [Sunday, 16th Tishreiy 5781]
May I give the charity for Yizkor before Yom Tov, or must it be given afterwards?
It may be given before Yom Tov if you choose, although in such a case you should say “As I have given” in the Nussach.
Sources: See Gesher Hachaim 31:2-3; Nitei Gavriel 79:29
  1. Question: [Sunday, 23rd Tishreiy 5781]
From what age may a qualified person begin giving Halachic rulings? I once learned that until age 40 one is not allowed to Pasken. Is this correct?
Although the concept is recorded in the Talmud, nonetheless, this matter is debated amongst the Rishonim and Poskim as to its understanding, with some holding it as literal that one may not Pasken until age 40, and others holding it as discussing one who is able to Pasken but refuses to do so, that until age 40 he may avoid Paskening, although may do so if he chooses, and past age 40 he may not refuse to Pasken. Practically, the Sephardim [Michaber, Rambam, Rif, and Rosh] all rule like the latter approach, and hence there is no issue whatsoever for a qualified Sephardi to Pasken even prior to age 40. However, the Ashkenazim [Rama] took the former approach and ruled that one should not Pasken until age 40. Nonetheless, even according to this approach there are various leniencies suggested, and practically the widespread custom of even Ashkenazim is to permit Paskening prior to age 40 despite the ruling of the Rama. Nonetheless, some community guidelines require that an elected Rav be at least 40 years old to be eligible, in light of the above original Talmudic statement and ruling of Rama.
Sources: See Avoda Zara 19a; Sotah 22b; Opinion of Ashkenazim: Rama 242:31 [permits only if no greater Rav in city]; Pischeiy Teshuvah 242:16 in name of Shevus Yaakov 1:140 explains that only Issur Viheter is forbidden while Dinei Mamonus is permitted; Aruch Hashulchan 242:57; Opinion of Sephardim: Rambam Talmud Torah 5:4; Michaber C.M. 7:3; Beis Yosef 242; Avkas Rochel 201 p. 361; Kesef Mishneh and Lechem Mishneh on Rambam ibid; Birkeiy Yosef C.M. 10:5; Leniencies for Ashkenazim: Radbaz 6:2147; Maharashdam C.M. 1; Lechem Mishneh ibid; Divrei Halacha 242:13; Hilchos Talmud Torah of Rav Ashkenazi 2 p. 433; Shevet Hakehasi 1:263; Pesakim Veteshuvos 242:42

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