Supporting one’s parents and giving them Tzedaka:
If one’s parents cannot afford to support themselves, then if the child can afford it, then he must feed them [and pay their taxes] from his own money according to his affordability, and is actually forced [by the Beis Din] to do so [if he refuses]. [This applies even if the father legally forgives his son from needing to support him, nevertheless he is forced to do so , as the father does not have the right to throw himself onto the public.]
How much to give-In accordance to his charity obligations: The Poskim, however, explain that the child is only obligated to support his parents from the moneys that he is obligated to give to charity [and not from his money which is in excess of his charity obligations]. [Thus, he is only obligated to support his parents with up to 1/5 of his earnings. Likewise, if the son is so poor that he is not obligated in the giving of Maaser, then he is likewise not obligated to support his parents. However, some Poskim rule that if the child can afford it, then he must support his parents even past his charity obligations, and hence if his parents require much more than 1/5 of his earnings for their lifestyle, and he can afford it, then he must give them even more than 1/5. Likewise, these Poskim rule that we do not measure charity obligations in this regard according to the regular criteria of charity obligations, but rather according to what is accustomed the world to support one’s parents. Likewise, some Poskim write that even when a child is exempt from supporting his parents due to his state of poverty, he is to be shamed by the public for not doing so. However, even according to this opinion, the son is only obligated to provide the father with the basics and not anything extra and extravagant.]
Using charity money to support one’s parents: Although one is only obligated to support his parents in accordance to his charity obligations [and may use actual charity money to do so], nevertheless, one who is able to support his parents from his own money and instead chooses to use charity money to do so, is cursed. [However, some Poskim rule that the entire restriction above is only with regards to using money already separated for charity for paupers, however, to use Maaser money to help support one’s parents is permitted even initially. Other Poskim, however, rule that even Maaser money should not be used for this purpose if one can afford it otherwise, as it is included in the above curse. Practically, one is to be stringent in this matter if he can afford it. One is to be stringent even if the father is unaware that the money he is receiving is from his children’s charity funds. If, however, he cannot afford to support his parents without using his charity contributions, then he is not only allowed to use his charity contributions to support his parents, but he is even obligated to do so, and supporting his parents come before supporting other relatives. In this regard, the definition of inability to afford to support the parents without using charity money is that the son would not have enough money to pay for the basic living expenses accepted for one’s area. For this purpose, it is permitted even initially for the son to give all of his charity money to his parents even if there are other paupers who need it more than the parents, and on the contrary he is obligated to do so. Thus, one who cannot afford supporting his parents otherwise, is to cancel all of his charity contributions to other sources and give the money only to his parents. Nonetheless, the allowance to use charity money to support one’s parents only applies towards services that the child is not obligated to personally provide for his parents. Thus, they cannot use Maaser money to pay for the burial expenses of their parents which is an obligation upon the sons. Regarding helping one’s parents marry off one’s siblings, it is permitted even initially for one to use his charity money for this purpose.]
Dividing the obligation of support between the children: If there are many sons [or sons in laws], then the sons [and sons in laws] are collectively responsible for supporting their parent, each one in accordance to the amount that he can afford. Thus, if some of the sons [or sons in laws] are rich and some are poor [to the point that if they were to give money on behalf of their parents they themselves would need to collect money from others on behalf of themselves], then only the rich sons [and sons in laws] are obligated in supporting their parents. [If one of the sons ended up giving more than he is obligated to give, and has ability to prove it, then he may demand to be reimbursed from the inheritance money that the brothers will eventual receive from the parents. Regarding if the son-in-law’s must help support their parents-in-law, if the sons can afford to do so themselves, some Poskim imply that it is not required. However, other Poskim rule that they are required to help support their parents-in-law even if the sons can afford it, although are not required to give as much as the sons. If the son-in-law is rich and can afford to support his parents-in-law and there are no sons or the sons cannot afford to do so, then he is required to fully support them.]
When is a parent defined to not be able to support themselves? What if they have a savings account, or an investment account [i.e. 401(k)] or own real estate?
In this regard, we follow the parents’ total assets. Thus, all parents who have saving accounts which they can use to support themselves, are considered to be able to afford their own support and cannot demand the children support them in order so they can keep their savings. Likewise, if the parent is owed money but does not choose to collect at this time, then his children are not obligated to support him and he is rather to cash in on the debts that he is owed. Likewise, if the parent owns real estate aside for the home which he lives, or investment stocks which he can sell, then the children are not obligated to support them. Likewise, if the parent is supported through other charity funds then the children are not obligated to support them. Likewise, if the parent can get a job to support himself then the children are not obligated to support him so he does not have to go to work, unless the only available job is beneath the dignity of the parent, in which case if the son is wealthy he should support the parent so he does not have to work such a job. Certainly, children are not obligated to support parents who are too stingy to use their money to support themselves, even though they can afford it. Nonetheless, in all these cases, if the son nevertheless chooses to support his parents despite his lack of obligation to do so, then he certainly fulfills the mitzvah of honoring his parents. If the parent owns their house and does not have ability to support themselves without selling the house, then they are not obligated to sell their house and rather the children are obligated to support them.
Can a child demand from his parent to come live with him in order to save money in supporting them in their own home?
No. He is required to help support them in their home according to his affordability, if they do not wish to come with by him.
May one choose to give his charity money to other causes rather than to his parents who are in need?
Only if he plans to support his parents with his own personal money outside of his charity obligations. Otherwise, his parents come before everyone else, and it is forbidden for him to distribute the charity money to others when his parents are in need of it for their own support.
If a person only has enough money to support either his children or his parents, who comes first?
One’s parents receives precedence over his older children who are able to work and make their own money. However, regarding one’s younger children who are still supported by him and live in his home, they receive precedence over one’s own parents. This especially applies if they are younger than age 6.
What is one to do if all of his monthly charity obligations are already pledged for charitable causes and he hence does not have enough money to also support his parents?
He is to cancel his other charity pledges [and if necessary, perform Hataras Nedarim] and instead use the money to support his parents.
 Michaber 240:5; 251:3-4; Rambam Mamrim 6:3; Kiddushin 32a, as instructed Rabanon to Rebbe Yirmiyah; Many Amoraim in Yerushalmi Kiddushin 1:7; Sheilasos Rav Achaia Parshas Yisro Sheila’s 56; Rif Kiddushin 13b; Tosafus Kiddushin ibid in name of Sheilasos ibid and Riy and Rabbeinu Chanel and Chachmei Anglia; Rosh Kiddushin 1:50; Bahag; Semag 112; Semak 50; Rashba 2:6; 4:56; 7:451; Sefer Hayirah of Rabbeinu Tam; Rabbeinu Yerucham; Ravayah 515; Maharam 541; Mordechai Kiddushin 498; Ritva Kiddushin ibid; Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:18-23; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid p. 392-393; Many Rishonim in footnote 310
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that the son is not obligated to support his parents even if his parents cannot afford to support themselves. [Sefer Hayirah of Rabbeinu Tam in name of Yeish Omrim; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 325]
 Radbaz 2:663; Pischeiy Teshuvah 240:4
 Michaber ibid; Rambam ibid; Yerushalmi ibid; Almost all Rishonim ibid; Levush 240 [Rabbinical] See Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 317 and 324
The reason that this can be enforced: Although we do not regularly enforce the fulfillment of a mitzvah that contains a reward by its side, as does the mitzvah of giving charity in which G-d promises one to be blessed [see Devarim 15:10], nevertheless, charity is an exception to the rule being that it also contains a negative command against being stingy and withholding charity. [Taz 240:6; Tosafus Bava Basra 8b; see Devarim 15:7; See Poskim in Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 321 and 357-359]
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that we do not force the son to support his parents. [See Poskim in Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 322-323]
 Shvus Yaakov 3:75; Gilyon Maharsha 240:5
 See Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid p. 393-400
 Opinion in Rama ibid; Ran Kiddushin 13a; Opinion of Michaber ibid, as understands Taz 240:6 and Shach 240:6 and Bach 240; Beis Yosef 240 and Bach 240 and Perisha 240:8 in understanding of Rambam Mamrim 6:3 and Tur 240; Implication of Rif Kiddushin 13b and Rosh Kiddushin 1:50; Rashba ibid; Sheilasos 56; Bahag Kibbud Av Vaeim; Taz 240:6 [and that so is the opinion also of Michaber ibid as so he explains in his commentary Beis Yosef on the Tur and hence in his opinion there is no argument between the Michaber and Rama]; Shach 240:6 that so agrees Michaber and Rama; See Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:18 and Miluim Os Beis; Poskim in Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 318 and 344-345, 360
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that the son is obligated to support his parents due to his obligation of Kibbud Av Vaeim and not due to his charity obligations. [Understanding of Michaber ibid, as implied from Rama ibid, as learns Taz ibid and Shach ibid; Darkei Moshe 240:3 in understanding of Tur 240; Bach 240 that so is opinion of Semag Asei 212-213 and Semak 50; Aruch Hashulchan 240:20 in opinion of Michaber ibid; Poskim brought in Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnotes 328, 329, 332] Accordingly, some Poskim rule that the son is obligated to support his parents even if he cannot afford to support himself and is hence exempt from charity and will be forced to go begging for money in order to support his parents. [Rashbi in Yerushalmi Kiddushin 1:7, brought in Tosafus Kiddushin 32a and many Rishonim and Poskim brought in Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 329 and 332 and 336 that is Rabbinical and 337] Other Poskim rule that although the son is not obligated to support his parents to a degree that will force him to go begging for his own money, nonetheless, he is obligated to support them even in excess of his charity obligations, and even if it means that he will need to limit his expenses and live a much more budgeted life. [Understanding of Michaber ibid, as implied from Rama ibid, as learns Taz ibid and Shach ibid; Darkei Moshe 240:3 in understanding of Tur 240; Bach 240 that so is opinion of Semag Asei 212-213 and Semak 50; Aruch Hashulchan 240:20 in opinion of Michaber ibid] However, other Poskim rule that in truth there is no dispute in this matter between the Michaber and Rama, and everyone agrees that the child is only required to support his parents commensurate to his charity obligations, and hence the wording of the Rama ibid. [Taz ibid] However, in truth, the Rama in Darkei Moshe explains that the Lashon of the Tur/Michaber imply that the child is obligated to support his parents even past his charity obligations, and thus the Rama clarifies that he rules otherwise. [Shach 240:6] Thus, the puzzlement is on the Taz ibid who questions the wording of the Rama ibid, and seemingly the Taz ibid forgot what the Rama himself wrote in the Darkei Moshe ibid. [Shach in Nekudos Hakesef on Taz ibid] In any event, in conclusion, both the Michaber/Rama agree that one is only obligated to support the parents from his charity funds. Furthermore, even according to the other opinion, one cannot force the child support his parents pass his charity obligations. [Poskim brought in Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 334]
 Chazon Ish Y.D. 149:2; See Michaber 249:1; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 362
 Sheilasos ibid; Bahag ibid; Pesakim Uteshuvos ibid; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 347
 See Radbaz 2:663 “Although we take from the son under the category of charity, nonetheless it doesn’t follow the same laws of charity as by other paupers, but rather is all according to the affordability of the son and as to the ways of the world support one’s parents”; 8:166; Darkei Moshe 240 and Chasam Sofer Y.D. 229 in opinion of Tur; Amudei Arazim Mareches Nun Vav-4; Shevet Halevi 2:111-3; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 3:286; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 363-366
 Supporting according to parents’ lifestyle or according to what he needs to live: See Michaber 250:1 that one is required to support the pauper in accordance to his living standards, and hence if he was used to high living standards then he is to be supported according to those standards. Now, although this applies to the community fund and not to the individual who is not individually required to personally support a pauper according to his living standards [See Rama 250:1] nonetheless, some Poskim conclude that a son is obligated to do so on behalf of this parent. [Radbaz 2:663; Chasam Sofer Y.D. 229; Aruch Hashulchan 240:20] However, other authorities disagree and rule that the son is not obligated to support his parents pass their minimum needs even if he can afford it. [Divrei Shalom Viemes Y.D. 10] See Pesakim Uteshuvos 240 footnote 152
 Rashba 4:56 and 7:451; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 335
 Poskim in Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 298 and 368
 Rama ibid; Hagahos Mordechai Bava Basra; Semag; Piskeiy Tosafus; Meiri Kiddushin ibid; Or Zarua Tzedakah 1:26; Maharam 541; Agudah; See Michaber 251:5; Shach 240:7; Kiddushin 32a “Rav Yehuda says that a curse will befall a person who feeds his father from Maaser Ani.”; Poskim in Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid p. 389-393 and 398-410
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that according to Chachamim there is no curse for supporting a parent using Maaser money even if the child is wealthy and that so is the main ruling. [Rameh Kiddushin ibid; Piskei Riaz ibid; See Rishonim and Poskim in Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnotes 394-399]
 Piskei Riaz Kiddushin 32a; Rambam Matanos Aniyim 6:13; Tur Y.D. 331; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 382
 The reason: As it is considered shameful for the parent to live off charity money. [Chayeh Adam 67:12]
 Teshuvos Maharil 54 and 56 in name of Mahariy Oppenheimer; Leket Yosher 2:37; Shiyurei Kneses Hagedola 251:23; See Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:22 footnote 180 four various leniencies in this matter; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 411413
 The reason: As one is not biblical required to separate 10% of one’s earnings for charity, and hence there is no shame involved to give some of this money to one’s parents. [Shiyurei Kneses Hagedola 251:23; Derisha 251:4 in name of Maharam]
 Beis Yosef 240 in name of Maharam Merothenberg 541; Avkas Rochel 3; Chasam Sofer Y.D. 229 and 231
 Shevet Halevi 5:133-10; Tzedakah Umishpat 3:23; Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:22 footnote 180
 Shach 251:5; Teshuras Shai 1:269; Tzitz Eliezer 14:92
 Rama 251:3; See Perisha 251:5; Derisha 251:2
 Teshuras Shai 1:269; See however Aruch Hashulchan 240:22 and if the father does not have even enough money to buy bread, then the son must give up his meat to buy his father bread
 Chasam Sofer Y.D. 229; 231; Panim Yafos on Torah Devarim 15; Shevet Halevi 5:135-4; See Michaber 257:9 that one should not distribute all his charity money to one pauper
 Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:22 Footnote 181
 Teshuvos Vehanhagos 2:444 in name of Brisker Rav; Vayivarech Dovid 36; Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:22; Thus, for example, one may not use charity money to pay for them to have a nurse, or be housed in an assisted living home, in order to exempt himself from personally needing to assist them and house them, as one is obligated to do these things as part of his command to honor his parents, and any matter that one is commanded to fulfill one may not use charity money to fund. [Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:22 footnote 1821]
 Minchas Shlomo 2:97-11; See also Maharsham 249:1; Shevet Halevi 5:133; Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:22 footnote 183
 Vayivarech Dovid Hilchos Kibbud Av 5:26; Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:22; See Michaber 71:1
 Rama ibid; Hagahos Maimanis; Beis Yosef; Shut Maharam 541; Hagahos Ashri Kiddushin 1:50; Shut Maharil Chadashos 107; Poskim in Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 369-371
 See Michaber 251:3; Chavos Yair 134; Aruch Hashulchan 240:38; Pischeiy Teshuvah 251:2 in name of Maharam Ziskind 19 in name of Mahram Mintz 7; Avnei Zikaron p. 304; However, see Encyclopedia Talmudit Erech Kibud Av Vaeim Vol. 26 p. 424 footnote 710 in name of Menoras Hamaor Alankava 4:16 that she is exempt from supporting her parents if they are poor
The reason: As his parents-in-law are no different than any other relative, as well as that he is obligated in his father in-law’s honor. [Aruch Hashulchan ibid]
 Shut Maharam 541; Hagahos Ashri Kiddushin 1:50; Shut Maharil Chadashos 107
 Chavos Yair 134; Aruch Hashulchan 240:18
 Aruch Hashulchan ibid “and he also has no sons who can support him”
 Chavos Yair ibid; Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:21 based on and Avnei Zikaron p. 304 in name of Rav Elyashiv says that the sons are to give up to 20% of their earnings while the son-in-law is to give only up to 10%.
 Aruch Hashulchan ibid
 See Shut Maharil 107; Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:19; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid p. 398 footnote 372-376
 See Shut Maharil 107 that if they can currently afford to support themselves, then the children are not obligated to support them even if the parents claim that they need the money for savings.
 Rashba 4:56; Chelek Levi Y.D. 105; Shevet Halevi 2:111-3
 Hamakneh Kiddushin 32a; Chazon Ish Y.D. 149:2; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 373
 See Chasam Sofer Y.D. 229; Sefer Chassidim 573; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 375-376
 Maharil ibid; Chavos Yair 134; Chasam Sofer Y.D. 229; Aruch Hashulchan 240:18; See Sefer Chassidim 582; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 374
 Sefer Chassidim 582; Kesef Mishneh Mamrim 6:7; Shut Rav Akiva Eiger Kama 68
 Michaber 253:1
 Mishpat Kasuv Y.D. 20
 See Michaber and Rama Y.D. 251:3; Rambam Matanos Aniyim 10:16; Bava Metzia 71a; Tana Dvei Eliyahu Raba 27; Chayeh Adam 67:12; Chasam Sofer Y.D. 229; Encyclopedia Talmudit Erech Kibud Av Vaeim Vol. 26 p. 393 footnotes 313-318 and 346, 356
 See Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:18
 Rama 251:3
 See Shach 240:4; 249:3; Rishon Letziyon 240; Beis Shmuel E.H. 71:3; Rabbeinu Yerucham 23:5; Maharam Merothenberg 75; Chelek Levi Y.D. 105; However, see also Rashba 1:56; Tosafus Rosh Kiddushin 32a; Meiri Kiddushin ibid; Chasam Sofer 229; Shoel Vinishal 2:110