I teach Torah and am not wealthy, but give money daily towards maaser kesafim because I believe in the value of daily giving. I have been asked to teach a shiur, where all participants would give a small sum that would go to a tzedaka. Can I count this sum (or 90 percent of it) as my maaser money, because I labored to earn and create it – i.e. my labor = the maaser?
Or is it problematic, as participants think they are giving money that will actually *add extra* to a charity’s coffers, whereas I would be using it *instead of* money I would have given to that charity (which money then stays in my own pocket) – so there is a form of deceit going on?
Essentially an event that is meant to be a lishma Torah teaching for charity ends up benefiting me financially as I can deduct it off the maaser. That feels weird to me.
If you can count the money that is going to tzedakah as ma’aser will depend what was agreed upon when you decided to say the shiur. If you made up that you should be paid, and the money goes to tzedakah, then you can take it from ma’aser. However if what was agreed was that this is a way to raise money for tzedakah etc., then you can’t take it off as ma’aser money, as it wasn’t meant to go to you.
If you are allowed to take it from ma’aser money, it isn’t fooling anyone because you have no obligation to give your ma’aser money to any specific tzedakah, and because of the shiur now there is more money for the specific tzedakah that is being collected for.
In truth even if you don’t actually benefit monetarily from the shiur, it still does have to do with ma’aser, but a different type. I heard numerous times from R’ Volbe zt”l, that ”R’ M. Feinstein Zt”l used to say that a person should also give ma’aser from his time to others”. That is what this shiur is.
May you have much hatzlocho with the shiur, which is a mitzvah for a mitzvah.
Taz Y”D 249-1, Tzedakah U’mishpat 6-12.