My wife and I are nearly 300,000 in debt including a second mortgage and credit cards. I am currently not working but receive disability. To make ends meet, we have been borrowing from my in laws and my parents. recently, my wife received an inheritance from her late grandmother in the amount of 25,000. I am willing to take ma’aser but am not sure if we should as we have been basically living off of tzakduka from our parents. I have, in the past, when I was working mentally promised to give ma’aser but have been lax. I will willingly give ma’aser from this money as a tikkun but won’t if it is the irresponsible thing to do as we live off our parents and this money would alleviate much of that burden.

Should the 10% go to tuition? Shul dues?

I will happily accept your psak.

Answer:

Somebody who is dependent on help from others is not obligated in giving ma’aser (Yoreh De’ah 248:3).

However, according to some (see Minchas Yitzchak 8:83) it is permitted to use the ma’aser money to pay shul membership, if one would otherwise be unable to pay. It is possible that one can also pay tuition from ma’aser, depending on the age of the child, and the nature of the tuition, and this is a good idea under the circumstances.

For more details on what one may use ma’aser money for, please see http://www.dinonline.org/2010/12/27/suitable-use-of-ma%E2%80%99aser-kesafim/.

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