September 22 2021
In keeping with Achisomoch’s focus on making it easy for the Jewish public to give Tzedokoh, we take pleasure in presenting in our regular newsletters, a series of excerpts from a halachic sefer on Tzedokoh & Ma’aser Kesofim entitled “Easy Giving”, co-authored by one of our own trustees, Eli Katz, together with Emanuel Meyer. The sefer has approbations from Rav YM Greenberg, Rav SF Zimmerman and Rav Y Flieschman (Head of the Choshen Mishpot Kollel, Yerushalyim), and is available from seforim shops in NW London.
Previously, we identified the source and the obligation of every member of every community to support the essential communal infrastructure and also the strength of this obligation. We further clarified what types of communal organisations are considered essential and that the obligation to support them has precedence over the mitzvah of tzedokah and minhag of ma’aser kesofim. Finally we explained how the personal obligations are calculated, with some modern day examples. You can read Easy Giving Part 3 extract here.
1. It is clear that to attempt to apply a takonoh today which requires members to declare their asset value or annual income to the community would not be practical or acceptable to the kehillo at all.
2. However, an alternative approach would be to use the amount of ma’aser kesofim which a person donates, as an indicator of their wealth. In most cases a wealthier person donates a larger amount to tzedokoh, than a less wealthy person. Therefore, each person’s pro rata share of the communal obligations can be calculated as a fixed percentage of their tzedokoh donations.
3. This method will improve in accuracy as individuals calculate and separate ma’aser kesofim to the maximum level that they can reasonably afford, within the ten and twenty percent guidelines described in future articles (Section C – Ma’aser Kesofim). It goes without saying that everyone is strongly encouraged to allocate the correct amount, as explained in that section.
4. According to this approach, we need to calculate how much money is donated to ma’aser kesofim by the entire community, relative to the amount of money the community requires for each essential communal institution. For example, based on the authors’ estimates, all the monies donated by the North- West London Jewish community in 2013 comes to no less than £35,000,0001 per annum, and the total annual shortfall (total costs less parents’ fees and contributions) of North-West London schools is one-fifth of that sum – £7,000,000. Therefore each person, whether their annual ma’aser kesofim donations amount to £1 or to £100,000, should allocate one-fifth of that sum, or 20%, to their local schools.
5. Whether this donation of 20% can come out of ma’aser kesofim funds or must be paid out of your income has been discussed, previously in Chapter 1:E.
6. For application of this method to other essential communal infrastructure see future article (Chapter 4:E).
1We have estimated the total sum of all the tzedokoh given by all donors in North-West London (i.e. NW11 and NW4). We are grateful to the many local institutions, welfare funds, charity organisations, larger donors and Achisomoch who have given us aggregate figures only. From this information, we extrapolated and calculated that for 2013 the total figure was not less than approximately £35,000,000.
To Be Continued …
This article was featured in the Rosh Hashonoh 2022 newsletter. Click here to download the full newsletter.