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Hilchos Choshen Mishpat

Volume III : Number 13

Income Liable To Maaser


Question:

From what income is a person obligated to separate Maaser?


Answer:

  1. Maaser must be separated from any income of liquid assets that a person receives throughout the year, including salary, inheritance, financial gifts, rental income, interest income from a bank, found money, etc. The custom is not to separate Maaser from gifts of items or real estate that a person receives, such as wedding presents or an inherited home or land. However, if the receiver liquidates these gifts or inheritance, or returns the gift for a cash refund, Maaser should be separated from the money that is received. (1)

  2. Money that is given as a gift by parents or friends for a specific purpose, e.g. to purchase a car or go on a vacation, is not considered income, and Maaser need not be separated from it. (2)

  3. If a person sells a home or a car or any other item, and receives more for it than what they paid, the Halacha is as follows: The profit that was made is liable for Maaser. However, this is only from the portion of the increased value which is because of increased demand for this home or item. If the increase of value is because the cost of living has gone up, or because of devaluation in the local currency, the portion of the profit that reflects this is not liable for Maaser.

    If, as a result of separating Maaser on the profit from the sale of a home, the person will not be able to purchase a new home that he needs, he may purchase the new home and give to Maaser the amount that he owes over an extended period of time. (3)

  4. A person is permitted to make a loan to a poor person, and stipulate that rather than have the poor person pay him back he will collect the debt from his own Maaser obligation. However, he must actually separate the Maaser and then take it back as payment for the debt. This stipulation works only if the borrower is alive and retains his status as a poor person and is thus deserving of Maaser funds, during the entire time that the loan is being paid in this manner. (4)


    Sources:

    (1) See Tosafos in Taanis (9a), the Sefer Chassidim (Ch. 144), the Rabbeinu Yona in Sefer HaYirah, the Teshuvos Yaavetz (Vol. 1 Ch. 8). This is also the conclusion of the Chazon Ish.

    (2) See the Shulchan Oruch, Choshen Mishpat 241:5, and the S"MA there (15).

    (3) See the Igros Moshe (Yoreh De'ah Vol. 2 Siman 114), and also my Sefer Minchas Tzvi (Vol. 3 Siman 8) where we elaborate on the reasoning for all of the Halachos discussed above.

    (4) Stated in the Shulchan Oruch, Yoreh De'ah 257:5, and the Shach there (12-15). See also the Teshuvos Nodeh BiYehuda (Yoreh De'ah Vol. 1 Siman 73, and Vol. 2 Siman 199), and my Sefer Minchas Tzvi (Vol. 3 Siman 9:1, 4, 5) where we elaborate on the Halachic parameters of such an arrangement.

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    This week's class is based on a column by Rabbi Tzvi Shpitz, who is an Av Bet Din and Rosh Kollel in the Ramot neighborhood of Jerusalem. His column originally appears in Hebrew in Toda'ah, a weekly publication in Jerusalem. It has been translated and reprinted here with his permission and approval. His columns have recently been compiled and published in a three volume work called Mishpetei HaTorah, which should be available from your local Sefarim store.

    Feedback is appreciated! It can be sent toatendler@torah.org.


    This week's class is based on a column by Rabbi Tzvi Shpitz, who is an Av Bais Din and Rosh Kollel in the Ramot neighborhood of Jerusalem. His Column originally appears in Hebrew in Toda'ah, a weekly publication in Jerusalem. It has been translated and reprinted here with his permission and approval.

    We hope you find this class informative and stimulating! If you do not see a subscription form to the left of the screen, access the Advanced Learning Network to subscribe to Business-Halacha.

    For information on subscriptions, archives, and other Project Genesis classes, send mail to learn@torah.org for an automated reply. For subscription assistance, send mail to gabbai@torah.org.

    Please Note: The purpose of this column is to make people aware of Choshen Mishpat situations that can arise at any time, and the Halachic concepts that may be used to resolve them. Each individual situation must be resolved by an objective, competent Bais Din (or Rabbinic Arbitrator) in the presence of all parties involved!

 






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