Question: May you use maaser k’safim funds to pay for your child’s wedding?

Short Answer: The Shach appears to rule that it is permitted to use maaser k’safim to pay for a child’s wedding. However, some Acharonim limit this ruling to a situation where the parent cannot otherwise afford the wedding, and some suggest that this ruling does not apply nowadays where parents are essentially “obligated” to pay for their child’s wedding.

 Explanation:

I. Supporting Older Children

The Gemara (K’subos 50a and 65b) states that any money spent supporting your children above the age of six constitutes tz’dakah. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Dei’ah 251:3), citing the Rambam, codifies this Gemara, and rules that any payment to older children (=according to the Shach, above the age of six) constitutes tz’dakah.

The Shach (Yoreh Dei’ah 249:3) extends the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch one step further. Although there is a distinction between tz’dakah and maaser k’safim funds (see Tz’dakah Article #1 from a few weeks ago), and the Shulchan Aruch was only referring to tz’dakah, the Shach cites the Maharam MiRutenburg who holds that one may use maaser k’safim funds when supporting older children, and adds that maaser k’safim funds can be used even where he can otherwise afford to support these children with other non-maaser k’safim funds.

The Taz (Yoreh Dei’ah 249:1) disagrees. According to the Taz, maaser k’safim funds cannot be used for supporting older children.

II. Wedding Expenses

Based on the Shach (ibid), the Tzitz Eliezer (9:1:4) rules that one may use maaser k’safim funds to pay for a child’s wedding, as long as he has not “obligated” himself (i.e., to his future son-in-law or his m’chutanim) to do so. Indeed, even if one “obligated” himself to pay for the wedding, one can certainly use maaser k’safim funds if he had in mind to do so at the time that he “obligated” himself.

Similarly, Rav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (Y’chaveh Daas 3:76) follows the ruling of the Shach, and cites many Acharonim who challenge the Taz. Accordingly, Rav Ovadia would allow one to use maaser k’safim funds to pay for a child’s wedding, even where he can otherwise afford to pay for the wedding using other non- maaser k’safim funds.

The Chazon Ish (Orchos Rabbeinu 4:288) appears to rule this way, as well, and allowed his students to use maaser k’safim funds to pay for their children’s wedding, based on the Shach.

III. The Middle Opinion

Other poskim however are not so lenient. The Sheivet HaLevi (9:151:3) appears to only allow a parent to use maaser k’safim funds for the cost of a bare-bones wedding and apartment for the new couple. Anything fancier or any additional accouterments would have to come from non-maaser k’safim funds. Similarly, Rav Moshe Sternbuch shlita (T’shuvos V’Hanhagos 1:561) rules that maaser k’safim funds may be used to pay for a child’s wedding, but only to supply the young couple with the bare necessities for the wedding and afterwards. He also adds that maaser k’safim funds should only be used where the parent has no other non-maaser k’safim funds with which to pay for the wedding.

Rav Moshe Feinstein (Yoreh Dei’ah 1:144), in a t’shuvah about paying for the wedding of a brother’s wedding with maaser k’safim funds, rules that maaser k’safim funds can be used to pay for the wedding – and you can even save up the maaser k’safim funds for later weddings of other family members – as long as you still give a significant percentage of your maaser k’safim funds to a non-family member poor person.

As an aside, the sefer Nachalas Pinchas (2:43) applies the same rule to Sheva Brachos. While he allows one to use maaser k’safim funds to pay for a child’s Sheva Brachos, they can only be used for the cost of a low-key event, with any extra costs coming from non-maaser k’safim funds.

IV. Non-Maaser K’safim Funds

Some poskim go further and do not allow maaser k’safim funds to be used for any wedding expenses. Indeed, Rav Chaim Kanievsky is quoted as ruling that maaser k’safim funds should not be used to pay for a child’s wedding. See sefer Mishnas HaMishpat (Tz’dakah, p.63) and Orchos Rabbeinu (ibid).

On the Star-K website, available at https://www.star-k.org/prev_questions, Rav Heinemann is quoted as ruling in a similar fashion, that maaser k’safim funds should not be used to pay for a child’s wedding. They likewise quote Rav Chaim Kanievsky as explaining that since one must expend a large amount of funds in order to get your child married nowadays, these expenses are considered “obligations,” and thus cannot be paid from maaser k’safim funds.

Finally, Avnei Yishfe (7:102) also rules that maaser k’safim funds should not be used to pay for a child’s wedding, as these expenses have become “obligatory” nowadays. However, he notes that if a parent is so poor that he must use maaser k’safim funds to pay for his child’s wedding, the parent is probably exempt from giving maaser k’safim in the first place.

 Next Week’s Topic: If you use maaser k’safim funds to purchase raffle tickets from a tz’dakah fundraiser raffle or Chinese auction, who owns the prize?


Rabbi Ephraim Glatt, Esq. is Assistant to the Rabbi at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills and a practicing litigation attorney. Questions? Comments? Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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