Using Maaser money to support ones parents

* This article is an excerpt from the above Sefer

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Using charity money to support one’s parents:[1]

Permitted but discouraged: Although one is only obligated to support his parents in accordance to his charity obligations [and from the letter of the law may use actual charity money to do so[2]], 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.[3]

Maaser moneys: Some Poskim[4] rule that the entire restriction and above-mentioned curse 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.[5] Other Poskim[6], 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.[7]

Parents are unaware:[8] One is to be stringent not to support his parents using charity funds even if the father is unaware that the money he is receiving is from his children’s charity funds.

Can’t afford otherwise: 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.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11] 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.[12] 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.[13] Thus, they cannot use Maaser money to pay for the burial expenses of their parents which is an obligation upon the sons.[14] 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.[15]




May one choose to give his charity money to other causes rather than to his parents who are in need?[16]

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?[17]

One’s parents receives precedence over his older children who are able to work and make their own money.[18] 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.[19]


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.



[1] Rama Y.D. 240:5; Shach 251:5; 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 given 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]

[2] Michaber 251:3; Piskei Riaz Kiddushin 32a; Rambam Matanos Aniyim 6:13; Tur Y.D. 331; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 382

[3] The reason: As it is considered shameful for the parent to live off charity money. [Chayeh Adam 67:12]

[4] 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

[5] The reason: As one is not Biblically 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]

[6] Beis Yosef 240 in name of Maharam Merothenberg 541; Avkas Rochel 3; Chasam Sofer Y.D. 229 and 231; Ahavas Chesed 2:19-1; Teshuvos Vehanhaagos 3:286; Sefer Hilchos Maaser Kesafim 11:19

[7] Shevet Halevi 5:133-10; Tzedakah Umishpat 3:23; Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:22 footnote 180

[8] Shach 251:5; Teshuras Shai 1:269; Tzitz Eliezer 14:92

[9] Rama Y.D. 251:3; See Perisha 251:5; Derisha 251:2

[10] 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

[11] Chasam Sofer Y.D. 229; 231; Panim Yafos on Torah Devarim 15; Shevet Halevi 5:135-4; Sefer Hilchso Maaser Kesafim 11:20; See Michaber 257:9 that one should not distribute all his charity money to one pauper; See Shevet Haleci 3:125; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 3:286

[12] Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:22 Footnote 181

[13] 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]

[14] Minchas Shlomo 2:97-11; See also Maharsham 249:1; Shevet Halevi 5:133; Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:22 footnote 183

[15] Vayivarech Dovid Hilchos Kibbud Av 5:26; Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:22; See Michaber 71:1

[16] 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

[17] See Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:18 and 251:4

[18] Rama 251:3; perisha 251:5

[19] 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

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