In many countries, street performers juggle, perform tricks, or dance at stop lights. Would giving them change count as tzedakah? Or is this, halachically speaking, simply a business transaction? Does whether or not one enjoyed the performance have any bearing on this?

It should be noted that in those countries where street performers perform the abovementioned actions, there are also street vendors selling chewing gum, sunglasses, snacks and the like at stop lights and that purchasing something they had for sale would clearly be a business transaction.

1 Answer 1


In regard to juggling acts and other performances, since watching a juggling act or a musician or magician perform on a public street does not obligate the watcher to pay the performer for his act, therefore any payment given to the performer would be considered extra payment, and would be an act of tzedakah.

But If one purchases chewing gum, sunglasses, snacks and the like from a needy person at a stop light, since he receives something which obligates payment for it, therefore only if he pays more for it than it's regular price, is he doing an act of Tzedakkah.

  • 1
    Good answer, @RibbisRabbiAndMore; a source (particularly for the first paragraph) would answer this question beyond a shadow of a safek. Commented Jun 4, 2018 at 23:13
  • 2
    Hana’ah halachically has the status of a tangible item (shavah kesef), to the extent that one can effect a marriage with it (ex. the cases of שחוק לפני רקוד לפני on Kiddushin 63a). Does that make a difference according to what you’re saying? You don’t have to get benefit from it; you could ignore it and walk away...
    – DonielF
    Commented Jun 5, 2018 at 1:09
  • I think we need a source that donations to goyim count as tzedakah. My understanding was they could only count for maaser sheni
    – SAH
    Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 2:40
  • @SAH Does THIS help? Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 5:16
  • While you aren't paying for any service provided by these performers you are paying/tipping for the entertainment and that's how many of these performers make a living or pay for college. If one chooses to pay his bills from money made by playing the flute on the metro why would your "extra payment" be any different than an employer's? Unless of course you weren't entertained and out of the goodness of your heart, presuming the performer's financial situation, you gave some money. But that then would get into a different question.
    – Oliver
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 22:00

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