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Paying Debt or Giving Maaser

Rabbis –

A close relative of mine lent me a large sum of money to help with living conditions and basic necessities. I receive a salary but it is insufficient to cover these expenses and am living on a mix of salary and my 401(k) distributions. Do I have an obligation to repay my debt to the kind relative (no promissory note involved) first or give maaser, or split it? I would love to give maaser, but also realize I have a substantial debt to repay. Please advise. The halacha below was unclear to me. Thank you in advance.

“A debtor who has insufficient means to pay back his debts should not donate more than one third of a shekel (per year) to charity until he completed the repayment of his debts.”


You should pay the debt before giving maaser. If you are unable to pay the debt back and give maaser, you will be exempt from giving maaser.

However, if the creditor is easy going, and you are able to both pay back the debt in convenient installments, and give maaser, this is the best option.

Best wishes.

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for your quick response. I greatly appreciate it.

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