Giving Maaser money to relatives

Giving Maaser money to relatives?[1]

Tzedaka money and Maaser funds, is not only permitted to be distributed to poor relatives, but one is even required to precede a relative in need over other paupers. This includes one’s parents, one’s older[2] children, one’s brothers, and any other relative.[3]

If one can afford to support one’s parents without dipping into Maaser funds:[4] One who has enough money to support his parents without needing to use his charity money, is not to use charity money to support them. One who does, a Mearah [i.e. curse] will befall his household.

The order of precedence of relatives:[5]

  1. Parents
  2. Children
  3. Paternal brother
  4. Maternal brother
  5. Other relatives



How much of one’s Maaser money is one to give his needy relatives?[6]

Some Poskim[7] suggest that it is proper for one not to distribute all of his Maaser money to his relatives, and is rather to give 50% to other paupers. If, however, one’s relative is in a very dire state of need, one may distribute to him all of one’s money.[8]


If one has already pledged his Maaser money for a certain cause and his relative then becomes in need of charity, what is he to do?[9]

If the charity was already pledged, and certainly if the charity was already separated, on behalf of another cause, then it is forbidden to be used for other purposes. However, if one did not make a pledge and has not yet separated the money on anyone’s behalf, then even if in general he distributes it to a certain cause, he may change his mind and distribute it to a relative. Accordingly, those who have a monthly Maaser contribution sent to an organization, and may cancel it at any time [i.e. they never made a definitive pledge of donating for x amount of time], are required to do so in order to support their relative in need, if the circumstance arises. [Nonetheless, due to the issue of breaking a vow, one is to initially explicitly state Beli Neder prior to setting up any monthly donation plan, and Bedieved, if necessary one is to perform Hataras Nedarim prior to canceling.[10]]



[1] Michaber 251:3; Tur 251:3; Rambam Matanos Aniyim 10:16; Nedarim 65b; Hagahos Mordechai Bava Basra Remez 494; Sifri Riei 116; Rashi Devarim 15:7; Aruch Hashulchan 251:1

[2] See Shach 251:4 that this refers to children above six years old; Beis Yosef 251:3

[3] Michaber and Rama ibid; Poskim ibid

[4] Rama 240:5; Shach 251:5; Hagahos Mordechai Bava Basra Remez 494; Yershalmi Peiah 27a; Ahavas Chesed 2:19-1; See Shut Maharil 56; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 3:286

[5] Michaber and Rama ibid;

[6] See Koveitz Hearos Ubiurim 795 p. 93

[7] Avkas Rochel “One is to try to give half to his poor relatives”; See Poskim in Beis Yosef 251:5; Chasam Sofer 231; Pischeiy Teshuvah 249:2; Chochmas Adam 145:5; Maharsham 249 in name of Kneses Hagedola and Gan Melech 70; Aruch Hashulchan 251:4 allows to give majority to relatives; Igros Moshe Y.D. 1:144 that may give majority to relative, but should give some to other causes; Or Zarua Tzedaka 1:22 rules based on Mishneh Peiah 8:6 that if one separated the Maaser with intent to distribute it to paupers, he may only give up to half to his relative, while if he separated it Stam, he may give the entire amount to his relative.

[8] Chasam Sofer Y.D. 229 regarding father; Derech Emuna Matanos Aniyim 7:247; See Shevet Halevi 3:125; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 3:286

[9] See Rama Y.D. 251:5

[10] See Michaber 203:4; Chevel Nachalaso 7:29; Tzedaka Umishpat 4

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