Hi, I have a ma’aser question.
I’m working on setting up a collection for a rav that doesn’t have a shul but still has a community that asks him shailos. We are asking for money in the form of a contribution from those that use this rav’s services of answering shailos to help support the rav, being that he doesn’t get a salary from a shul. So, basically this money is going to support a talmid chochom, but is being collected as a contribution/payment for the rav’s service of answering shailos. Can people make these payments from ma’aser money?
If the contribution is obligatory, meaning that the Rabbi is essentially taking money for the service, it won’t be permitted to pay it with ma’aser money.
However, as I understand from the question, the Rabbi himself is not asking for any money, and the idea of the contribution is entirely voluntary, so that nobody will actually be made to pay, and answers to questions are not contingent on the person having paid.
In this case, it is permitted to use ma’aser money, as support for a talmid chacham, and the fact that he answers questions doesn’t make him any less legible for receiving ma’aser money.
[The same applies, for instance, to the Dinonline website, which doesn’t demand any contribution, but is happy to receive, and ma’aser money can be used!]