Let's say there is an organization that has a Pushkah (charity box) that I regularly insert money into for Tzedakah purposes, then this same organization has a Chinese auction and I want to get a chance at a particularly pricey prize. Can I use the money in the Pushkah for the Chinese auction? Same organization, new motivation. (Of course CYLOR.)

  • wat don't you understand Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 4:33
  • 1
    Not an answer because no source, but once you put the money into the pushka, it belongs to the organization, no? Since the idea of the Chinese auction is to raise more money for tzedakah, presumably they wouldn't give you permission to reuse it.
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 4:56
  • @Alex I disagree. If the pushka is in his own home, the money still belongs to him. He has merely designated his own money to give to organization X. If he empties the pushka to buy Chinese auction tickets from organization X, they have still received the money. Not only that - putting money in a box at home is NOT like "hekdesh" (consecrating an object for Temple use). If he suddenly needed change for the parking meters, he could take the money back - he would merely lose the potential mitzvah of tzedakah. I think that's one of the reasons we don't say a bracha on giving tzedakah.
    – user1095
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 6:31
  • @Will, the coins themselves are fungible, true. (I don't think that's the reason for not saying a berachah, though - if that were the case, why wouldn't you say one when you give the money directly to a poor person, where obviously you can't take it back from him?) But if you borrow the money to pay the parking meter or whatever, all that means is that you still owe the organization this amount. (Donating to tzedakah is indeed like hekdesh for at least some purposes.) Same thing, then, if you take it out to buy Chinese auction tickets - you'd still have to repay what you borrowed.
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 16:40
  • But okay, given what you quoted in your answer, it looks like at least in some cases this may be allowed.
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 16:41

2 Answers 2


HaRav Dovid Zucker, Shlita, offered the following solution. One can make a stipulation before purchasing the tickets that if he wins he pays the entire amount out of his own pocket. If not, the money will come from ma’aser and go to the organization. [See Sefer Tzedakah Umishpat from R’ Yaakov Bloi page 31 who also gives this solution] R’ Zucker ruled that this stipulation should really be made in all situations where one buys raffle tickets even when there is an unlimited amount over a prolonged period. Being that there are Poskim [R’ Taub quoting HaGaon Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv Shlita and R’ Shmuel Felder quoting Hagon Rav Shlomo Zalman zt”l] who say that even in such a case one should not use maaser money making the above stipulation avoids all issues since one is not considered to have benefited from maaser in any way.

The above quote, found here, gives a formula by which one may use maaser / tzedakah money for a Chinese Auction (a.k.a. raffle).

The question also asks whether previously set aside money for an organization can be used to purchase a ticket for a raffle run by that same organization.

Using the stipulation quoted above, it would seem that handing over the money to the organization by means of a losing raffle ticket is no different than giving it to them directly.

Since you have stipulated that any winning raffle ticket is retroactively considered to have been purchased from your own money - if you win, you would then "owe" the original price of the raffle ticket (NOT the value of the prize!) to the organization.

Now - what if one had already placed money into a pushka (charity box) with intent to give that money to a specific organization? Can that money be used to buy raffle tickets from the same organization?

If the pushka is in your own home, the money still belongs to you. You have merely designated your own money to give to organization X.

If you empty the pushka to buy Chinese auction tickets from organization X, they have still received the money. Putting money in a box at home is NOT like "hekdesh" (consecrating an object for Temple use). For example, if you suddenly needed change for the parking meters, you could take the money back. (It is unclear whether or not you would then "owe" an equal amount of money to that organization.)

This is all true because of the concept of tova'as hanaa. Tova'as hanaa is the power of choice that a charity giver has when distributing his charity funds.

This power of choice is considered valuable enough to marry a woman with it (in lieu of a ring)

So, just because you put your own money in your own box, with organization X in mind, that doesn't remove your tova'as hanaa on the money. Certainly if you could legally use the money for a completely separate purpose, you could use it to buy charity raffle tickets.

  • It's curious that you quote more people saying it's not allowed, then people saying it is allowed.
    – avi
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 14:40
  • The idea being, using this stipulation works even according to those who say that using maaser money outright to buy a charity raffle ticket (without stipulating) is not allowed.
    – user1095
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 14:42
  • the phrase " who say that even in such a case one " is confusing then. It sounds like they don't allow it at all. Meaning you can only buy the ticket, and then afterwards declare the money to be maaser if you lose, but you can't use the maaser money to buy the ticket in the first place.
    – avi
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 14:49
  • @avi "such a case" refers to the unlimited tickets sold over a long period of time. There is a longer discussion that I linked to, but didn't quote, about the difference between unlimited tickets over a long time, and limited tickets over a short time. So, EVEN accoridng to those who don't allow maaser money for unlimited / long time raffles... ...this stipulation works.
    – user1095
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 14:59
  • I belive you did not address my question which is essentially what is the puskah is it as if I gave it to the organization already or do I still have discretionary power on the monies use Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 23:17

Presumably the money in the tzedahkah box is for tzedakah.

Money spent at a chinese auction, does not count as Tzedekah since you are receiving the possibility of gaining an item for the money spent.

However, if you plan to give any item you win the auction to Charity as well, then I presume you could use the money from the Tzedakah box to do so. If such an idea seems crazy to you, then I think you have a better understanding of whether or not this is being done for tzedakah or your own possible personal gain.

  • A Chinese auction is like a raffle. Most people DON'T win. If someone doesn't win the item, it's the same thing as a donation. If that person does win the item, even then it's not clear that it doesn't count as tzedakah. Many of the items themselves are donated, so the charity hasn't lost the use of your tzedakah funds by giving you the donated item.
    – user1095
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 11:39
  • @Will It doesn't matter if the charity organization loses some value from giving you an item or not. The question is if you personally gain by giving the money, and you do. But thanks for the clarification, I was confusing a Chinese auction with a blind auction. (where you just don't know what other people are bidding)
    – avi
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 13:56
  • re: the edit - is the "possibility of gaining an item" really a tangible entity? By that rationale, you shouldn't be able to give tzedakah to a cause you care deeply about, because "you are receiving the joy and satisfaction of knowing that you helped" for the money spent.
    – user1095
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 14:25
  • @Will neither joy nor satisfaction are tangible items with which you can sell or make money. Buying a lottery ticket, is not Tzedakah.
    – avi
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 14:26
  • A source for whether the chance at a win (with, retrospectively, no win in the end) can be paid for from tz'daka funds would be invaluable in resolving the machlokes haacharonim we seem to have here. I'm pretty sure such a source exists (raffles are not a new means of charity collection).
    – msh210
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 15:21

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