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If I have an idea for a Talmud study aid, and I can't find such an aid online, and I pay someone to create it for myself, but I also put it up on the internet for anyone to use, does that count as tzedakah in some way? Would it count for maasar kesafim?

(ie imagine I had the idea for the Gemara Card (https://www.amazon.com/Gemara-Card-English-Hebrew/dp/1592644546) and paid someone to create it, but gave it out for free.)

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The answer would seem to be "Yes, this could count as Ma'aser", as it seems to be similar to one who buys Seforim for public use. See for example Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 34:4 (emphasis my own):

כַּמָּה יִתֵּן הָאָדָם צְדָקָה. שָׁנָה רִאשׁוֹנָה הַמַּעֲשֵׂר מִן הַקֶּרֶן. מִכָּאן וָאֵילַךְ יִתֵּן מַעֲשֵׂר מִן הָרֶוַח שֶׁהִרְוִיחַ כָּל שָׁנָה, [חוּץ מִצָּרְכֵי בֵּיתוֹ], זוֹ הִיא מִדָּה בֵּינוֹנִית. וּמִצְוָה מִן הַמֻּבְחָר שֶׁיִּתֵּן חֹמֶשׁ שָׁנָה רִאשׁוֹנָה מִן הַקֶּרֶן, וְאַחַר כָּךְ כָּל שָׁנָה חֹמֶשׁ מִן הָרֶוַח. וְאַל יְבַזְבֵּז אָדָם יוֹתֵר מִן הַחֹמֶשׁ, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִצְטָרֵךְ הוּא אַחַר כָּךְ לַבְּרִיּוֹת. וְדַוְקָא כָּל יְמֵי חַיָּיו. אֲבָל בִּשְׁעַת מוֹת, יָכוֹל אָדָם לִתֵּן עַד שְׁלִישׁ רְכוּשׁוֹ צְדָקָה. אֵין לַעֲשׂוֹת מִמַּעֲשֵׂר שֶׁלּוֹ דְּבַר מִצְוָה, כְּגוֹן נֵרוֹת לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת אוֹ שְׁאָר דְבָרִים לְמִצְוָה, רַק יִתְּנוּהוּ לַעֲנִיִּים. וְאִם נִזְדַּמְּנָה לוֹ מִצְוָה לִהְיוֹת בַּעַל בְּרִית, אוֹ לְהַכְנִיס חָתָן וְכַלָּה עֲנִיִּים לַחֻפָּה וְכַדּוֹמֶה וְכֵן לִקְנֹת סְפָרִים לִלְמֹד בָּהֶם, וּלְהַשְׁאִילָן לַאֲחֵרִים לִלְמוֹד בָּהֶם, אִם לֹא הָיָה יְכֹלֶת בְּיָדוֹ, וְלֹא הָיָה עוֹשֶׂה אוֹתָהּ מִצְוָה מֵמָּמוֹן שֶׁלּוֹ, יָכוֹל לַעֲשׂוֹת מִמַּעֲשֵׂר. אִם קוֹנֶה סְפָרִים מִמְּעוֹת מַעֲשֵׂר, צָרִיךְ לִזָּהֵר לְהַשְׁאִילָן לַאֲחֵרִים, אִם לֹא כַּאֲשֶׁר הוּא צָרִיךְ לָהֶם, אֲזַי הוּא קוֹדֵם. וְגַם יִזָּהֵר לִכְתּוֹב עֲלֵיהֶם שֶׁהֵם מִמְּעוֹת מַעֲשֵׂר, לְמַעַן לֹא יַחְזִיקוּ בָּהֶם בָּנָיו אַחֲרָיו (סִימָן רמ"ח).

How much charity should you give? The first year you should give a tenth of the principle; and thereafter, you should give a tenth of the profits you earn each year, [after deducting your household expenses.]15 This is the medial way [of giving charity]. The commandment is fulfilled in its excellence when you give a fifth the first year from the principle, and every year after that a fifth of the profits. You should not give away more than a fifth, so that you will not become dependent on others.16 This rule applies only during your lifetime. But as a dying bequest, you are permitted to [donate] up to a third of your estate to charity. You may not use your ma'aseir [charity] funds for other mitzvah obligations, such as buying candles for the synagogue or other items used for a mitzvah, but you must give it to the poor. If you have the opportunity to perform a mitzvah to help in the circumcision of a child, or to marry off a poor bride and groom, or similar situations; or to purchase Torah texts from which to study, and lend them to others for study; you may use the ma'aseir money if you would not be able to accomplish these deeds with your own money. If you buy Torah texts from ma'aseir money, you must be sure to lend them to others; but if you need them yourself, than your needs come first. You should also be sure to inscribe in them that they are from ma'aseir money, so that possession is not taken of them by your children after you.

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  • Thanks! This does seem to be similar to "purchase Torah texts from which to study, and lend them to others," however it also says "if you would not be able to accomplish these deeds with your own money." How important is this latter condition? What is the nature of this restriction, if it's a restriction? If I can afford it otherwise, I cannot count it? How would I calculate it? – AMR Jul 21 at 18:59
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    @AMR these are all details you would need to go over with a rabbi – Josh K Jul 22 at 8:15

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