by Joel Rich
Rabbi Dov Kahan-Hilchos Tzedaka
I’ve decided to listen to some series to get more detail on specific topics starting with tzedaka. I found this very fascinating as Rabbi Kahan (bio below) presented the “book” Halacha and was quickly forced to reconcile this with accepted practices. As he pointed out several times, there is no real “sugya” on the topic so everything is debatable. So still no real algorithm but do your best once you get the basic underlying currents.
Rabbi Dov Kahan, studied at the Mir Yeshivah in Brooklyn and Yeshivas Brisk in Yerushalayim before moving on to Beth Medrash Govoha of Lakewood. At BMG, Harav Kahan led the first Choshen Mishpat Chabura. He frequented the Bais Din of Harav Nissim Karelitz shlita in Bnei Brak, and received Semichah in Dayanus from leading Poskim of Eretz Yisroel. In 1999, Rav Kahan founded Bais Din Maysharim in Lakewood, which has developed into one of the prominent Batei Din in the United States. In 2007, Rav Kahan was selected to serve as well at Bais Din Tzedek Umishpot in New York. In 2008, he was appointed Rav of Bais Medrash of Arlington. Recently, some of his choshen mishpat shiurim have been transcribed and published as a sefer titled “Ha’din Ve’nimuko”.
Tzedakah 01 Hakdama
Tzedaka is the only mitzvah in which one can test HKB”H because the reward is intrinsic – if you disburse the proper proportion of your assets, HKB”H will give you more assets to administer. Me- Can one request an extrinsic reward instead (e.g. Good health for a relative?)?
Tzedakah 02 247&248
Discussion of the hashkafa of tzedaka as well as some introductory halachot. One should do it standing, with their right hand and know you won’t lose by giving. Interesting recognition of changed status of women over time but no discussion of whether these are positive developments. Covers forcing giving to charity, when can’t one pressure someone to give tzedaka and leniencies allowed by chazal to encourage tzedaka. Your shul should be nicer than your house (but no discussion of how nice your house should be)
Tzedakah 03 249.1
History of limitations on tzedaka amounts due to people giving more than they could afford. But how could the Takkanat Usha limit amounts when there is a negative commandment involved and you have to give away all your assets in order to avoid violating a negative commandment? Then on to trying to understand 20%,10% yado maseget( what he can afford ), dai machsoro (how much is needed) interplay. There is no one clear algotihim.
Tzedakah 04 249.1
More on the 20% maximum rule and exceptions – the 20% is on the combination of mitzvoth and tzedaka. The possible exceptions are : individuals with great wealth, where there are no poor persons around to give to, when someone’s life is at stake, when an individual feels the need to give more as an atonement, where an individual has received a windfall and for tallmud tora. You should make a condition in advance when you plan to use such funds for other mitzvah purposes and not use them for something you would have purchased anyway (e.g. an Aliyah)
Tzedakah 05 249.1
Situations where maser differs from tzedaka: 1. Tzedaka only applies when a poor person is there 2 Maaser must go to torah learners 3.Maaser can’t be used for a required item 4.There is a practice of 20% by maser. 5,Maaser requires an act of setting aside and 6. Maaser requires an exact calculation. Discussion of gross versus net basis and appropriate accounting periods. Money quote-Since there is no sugya in the gemaras, everything is a machloket (me = based on halachic intuition)
Tzedakah 06 249.1
Clarifications issues on how exact the calculations must be and that all must go to torah learners. Discusses nitty gritty of calculation of income for maser purposes especially regarding gifts and parental support. While rules are clearer concerning cash income, commodities are more problematic. Opinions range from no masser to maaser based on marginal benefit to recipient to full market value maaser. How do you treat unrealized gains???
Tzedakah 07 249.1
More on gross versus net proceeds especially in case on lost objects and insuranc3e proceeds. It’s best to set aside any moneys bli neder until you are actually ready to give the money to the ani. Interesting discussion of raffles, the most important thing is to be consistent in treating costs and benefits.
Tzedakah 08 249.1-3
An attempt to rationalize why objects may not be subject to maser and why it doesn’t really work. The difference between hon and osher. Understanding the importance of multiple giving and how this interacts with the requirement to give a poor person all they need.
Tzedakah 09 249.4
How do you calculate the portion of true tzedaka if both poor and rich benefit (e.g. give money to a Yeshiva)? It’s not a simple question. Is there a torah mitzvah to give to each poor person who approaches you irrespective of what you have already given? Do letters count as a direct request? Why is Chanukah special for giving tzedaka?
Tzedakah 10 249.4
Detailed analysis of the applicability of haosek bmitzvah patur mmitzvah( one who is engrossed in a mitzvah is exempt from other mitzvot) to tzedaka. Specific applications include during different parts of prayer and during learning and teaching. General exceptions to haosek also discussed. Gotta love the comment that people who are gifted enough to multitask during tfila can’t use hosek as an excuse!
Tzedakah 11 249.5-13
Being a gabbai tzedaka is a huge mitzvah if done appropriately. Extended discussion of the various levels of charity including anonymity, partnership and gifts, Special emphasis on vhechezakta bo.