Bob is an observant Jew. Jim is completely secular Jew, who has never been observant.

Jim is poor, and has trouble making ends meet most of the time.

Is Bob allowed to give Jim tzedakah, knowing with near certainty that Jim will use the money to purchase treif food , to drive on shabbat, and violate other Torah prohibitions?

If so, would there any distinction regarding the use of maaser money?

(Assume that Jim is not literally starving, to avoid any concern of pikuach nefesh)

  • 2
    No sources, but possibly since it's indirect and you're not actually making him do the melacha, it might not be forbidden. It'd probably be better to help him get a job, buy him some kosher food etc, which is also tzedaka but avoids the problems. But it's a good question, so +1
    – user613
    Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 9:02

1 Answer 1


You will find this question in the Shulchan Aruch, 169:2. It says there that if you know that the recipient will not make a Bracha, it is Assur to give food to this person. The Mishna Berurah questions if one can give the food B'Toras Tzedaka. His answer is that one should not withhold the food because of of the Mitzvah of charity.
However, if the recipient would not make a Bracha out of Rish'us (contempt of religious duty - literally wickedness), then one may not give this sinner food. But if it is out of ignorance then one can give the food, probably. Well the average guy would stop here.

But, the Mayshiv Davar states that since today we are faced with a new challenge of Tinuck Shenishba (captured children), i.e. American Jews that don't know enough to know that there is such a thing as a Bracha, we can give food even if we know that a Bracha will not be made, BeToras Mitzva (under the category of a commandment).
Furthermore, one could use Ma'aser money to pay for this poor guy's food as maybe he will be struck by the Torah's view of Chesed even in this day & age!

Look it up, it's good for you.

  • Sorry I didn't see the rest of your question,s. I don't have time to go further into this right now. I will attempt to find my way back here & answer more later. Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 21:19
  • When you're ready to expand this answer, just edit it; no need to post a new answer or anything.
    – MTL
    Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 21:24
  • 1
    Giving food is a step worse than giving the money which will be spent on food (lifnei d'lifnei)(so it's a kal v'chomer from your answer) Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 23:52
  • It's a good answer. However, making a bracha is d'rabbanan. Eating treif and breaking shabbos are d'oraisa. I have a feeling that the same logic would apply even to d'oraisas of a tinok-she-nishba, but it would be nice to see it in a source.
    – Jake
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 5:58
  • 1
    You are our 7000th user!
    – Double AA
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 7:04

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