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Are married Jewish women permitted to give tzedaka by themselves? Are they required to give it only together with their husband?

There seems to be some question about this based on the Rashi and Siftei Chachamim to Shemot 35:22. See also the comment from Ba’al HaTurim to the same posuk which in context seems to be suggesting a similar concept.

If not a requirement, is it preferable (Middat Chassidut)?

Please provide sources for any conclusion.

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The Sefti Chachamim points here:

בית יוסף על טור יו"ד רמח ד"ה גבאי צדקה

גבאי צדקה אין מקבלים מן הנשים ומן העבדים אלא דבר מועט וכו' עד הכל לפי עושר הבעלים ועניותן בסוף ב"ק (קיט:) ... רבינא איקלע לבי מחוזא אתו נשי דבי מחוזא רמא קמיה כבלי ושירי כלומר שרשראות וצמידי זהב קביל מינייהו א"ל רבא תוספאה והתניא גבאי צדקה מקבלין מהן דבר מועט אבל לא דבר מרובה אמר הני לבני מחוזא דבר מועט נינהו

Beis Yossef Tur YO"D 248 Starting Gabbay Tzedaka

Charity responsibles do not accept from married women and slaves, but a small amount...In proportion to their husbands wealth, end of Baba kama 119b ...when Ravina was at Bi Mechoza, the women of Bi Mechoza came and gave him golden jewels (for charity) and he accepted them. Rava Tosfa told him, we learned, we accept from women small amount, but not big amount! he replied: for the people of Bi Mechoza, that's a small amount.

Also,

כתובות סז ע"ב

אמרה ליה אנא שכיחנא בגויה דביתא ומקרבא אהנייתי

[Mar Ukva's wife] told him, [my deed of charity is greater then yours, because] I'm at home [and I give the hungry prepared food], so I benefit them faster [then giving him money, like you do]

I guess the Mar Ukva's wife had the freedom to decide how much to give.

So a women can (should?) give a reasonable sum for charity, without her husband permission.

  • This is an excellent start. But you aren’t addressing at all what this apparent limitation is about. Why is there any restriction at all? What is being emphasized starting from the source in Shemot that ties this all together? – Yaacov Deane Sep 2 at 13:27
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    @YaacovDeane That's not what the OP asked, and maybe it's answered at one of rosends's links – Alaychem Sep 2 at 13:31
  • The statement is not about a “reasonable” sum. It’s only permitting a ‘small’ sum. And I emphasize small, which implies it’s really not the preferred thing to do. It doesn’t relate to unmarried women at all. Unmarried women are treated the same as unmarried men in regard to giving tzedaka. They are not restricted in that way which means to understand this you need to address the “why” of this seeing limitation. Did you look at all at the comment in the Ba’al HaTurim? What is he emphasizing? – Yaacov Deane Sep 2 at 14:12
  • @YaacovDeane the answer to why is in Shalom's answer: because the usual setup in the time of the Gemara was it doesn't belong to her. It's the same reason I can't give tzedaka from your money. In most marriages today they decide to distribute the money differently. – Heshy Sep 2 at 17:44
  • @Heshy That would be great if the domain of the question were limited to the “time of the Gemara” (not exactly sure what that means). But the concept is originating with the donations for the construction of the Mishkan. And the items acquired were what each Jew, men and women, were given by their Egyptian neighbors in the plague of darkness, meaning before the giving of the Torah. Women, including married women at that time, owned their own property like the Matriarchs. – Yaacov Deane Sep 2 at 17:55
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If the couple has a financial arrangement whereby he pretty much controls all the assets, then he's assumed to be okay with his wife giving small amounts here or there, but anything bigger than that would require his approval. That's what you'll see in the Gemara, Shulchan Aruch, and the commentaries about donations to the Mishkan.

If, instead, they stipulated -- as the Gemara in Kesubos 58b says they can -- almost entirely separate financial streams [eini nizones v'eini osah]-- then she can give whatever she wants from her money.

Today in Israel and anywhere English-speaking -- unless we know otherwise -- we'd assume something much more like joint control. That means most likely either one can write a $54 check from their joint checking account without the other one's approval, but neither can decide on their own to buy a house from their joint checking account. It would be a trickier call where exactly to draw that line.

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