Dear Rav. I have a question that has been troubling me for a long time. It comes up in a number of places. There are certain times when one should give extra tzedaka e.g. as part of kappara for a sin, as gratitude for when a miracle was performed (see for example S.A. O.C. 118:9 and Mishnah Berura 32 weho states that one should say that the tzedaka is instead of a korban todah).
My question is as follows. Should this tzedaka come out of one’s ma’aser money? If it does, then one would have given that money to tzedaka anyway, so one didn’t do anything so special. If it does not come out of ma’aser money then one will be paying more than 10/20% tzedaka which generally should not be done (unless one is very wealthy). I would be grateful if you could shed some light on this for me. Many thanks.
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The general rule regarding what causes we may use our maaser money, is that any personal obligation that we have should not come from our maaser money. For example, we don’t buy ourselves a pair of tefillin from maaser money, nor use maser money for matanos l’evyonim, (unless one is giving more that the required amount). By the same measure, a person that needs a kapara for something, should not use maser money for it.
Regarding giving money as gratitude for a miracle that was done for a person. Although it is not as personal an obligation, nevertheless, the reason the person is giving the money is to show Hashem his gratitude over to what Hashem did for him, similar to when a person brings korban. By giving money to tzedakah that the person would anyways have to give, is not showing Hashem any gratitude, because the person would have to give it in any case. Therefore that money should also not come from maser money, unless the person isn’t really obligated to give maser.
M:B 694-3, Igros Moshe O:CH 175 D”H V’im, Poskim.