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Maaser While Struggling with Income

If a Jew is struggling with basic necessities and also in debt and in the process of paying off the debts, and an extra sum of money comes in that will really help catch up but yet not pay of his total debts should the Jew give a maaser from that extra sum?
Also if the Jew gave a pledge to a shul that when the money would come he would give a certain amount (and the amount is at least double the maaser of the sum that came in) and the Jew really does want to pay this pledge, but the Jew is in this debt situation, should the Jew give the amount yet or can wait until more will come in to pay the pledge? Thank you Rabbi.


Under the circumstances there will not be an obligation to pay maaser from the income that came in. Somebody who does not have the means is not obligated to pay maaser (though some write that it remains worthy practice), and under conditions of struggling with basic necessities and debt, the obligation will not apply.

The promise to pay the shul can also be interpreted as “when money will come in and I’ll be able to pay it,” and not “when money will come in and I’ll need it for basic necessities.” However, you should pay off whatever you can of the debt to the shul.

Note that once a person pledges money to shul, the debt cannot be paid off with maaser money.

For more details, please see here, and see also our articles on maaser here for the obligation of somebody struggling with his own income to give maaser.

Best wishes.

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