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Maaser Money for one’s Own Salary

I am beginning to build a practice. I see that there are a lot of people out there that are both in a very difficult financial situation, and who could benefit from good therapy, which they feel they cannot afford to pay much for. B”H, I have some ma’aser money to give. I also, like most if not all beginning therapists, want to build up a bigger client base – more at this point for contributing to the community, and for the needed experience, than for the financial reward.

I have private clients, and I also work for an organization that provides psychotherapy to people at subsidized rates. The organization pays me a certain amount for each client of theirs that I treat, on top of the nominal fee that each client pays. Like most non-profit organizations in Israel these days, this organization is having a hard time financially. I’m wondering if I could use ma’aser money to give the organization a donation, with the understanding that this money will go towards the money they pay me? I suppose it would be better if I gave them a donation and let them do with it what they want, and hope they will put all of it, or a good portion of it towards my salary. What does the Rav think? Are there any problems with this? Any other suggestions?

Answer:

I don’t see any problem with giving maaser money to the organization, even if the money will be spent on your salary.

The only point to make is that you must not stipulate that the donation should be used for your own salary, for in this case it would be construed not as a donation to the organization. Yet, if no stipulation is made, and the organization is free to use the money as it sees fit, there is no problem of contributing even if the organization will pay your salary with the money.

Some Kolelim actual request that the avreichim should give their maaser money to the Kolel itself, and the fact that the money will be used for future salaries does not change the halachic status.

Best wishes.

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