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Can giving money to my parents and relatives be considered as tzedakah?

  • Welcome aboard @user2040131. The answer to your question as presented is yes. You might want to give more detail about what you are questioning. It would be helpful to anyone in trying to provide a helpful, informative and correct answer. – Yaacov Deane Aug 23 '18 at 17:13
  • This may be considered a very high level of tzedaka – sam Aug 23 '18 at 17:33
  • Welcome to MiYodeya and thanks for this first question. Great to have you learn with us! – mbloch Aug 23 '18 at 17:36
  • See Yoreh Deah 251:3 which shows relatives come first – sam Aug 23 '18 at 17:38
  • Are they poor? If so why do you think it might not count? – Double AA Aug 23 '18 at 17:38
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If your parents are in need then give them because Tzedaka is a Mitzva to everyone, but even if they dont need so much helping them is still a mitzva see Isiah 58,7:

הֲלוֹא פָרֹס לָרָעֵב לַחְמֶךָ, וַעֲנִיִּים מְרוּדִים תָּבִיא בָיִת, כִּי תִרְאֶה עָרֹם וְכִסִּיתוֹ* *וּמִבְּשָׂרְךָ לֹא תִתְעַלָּם Give to the hungry your bread, bring the poor to your house when you see the unclad cover them and from your flesh don't turn away

The Gemara Kesubos 86a explains from וּמִבְּשָׂרְךָ לֹא תִתְעַלָּם that there is specifically a Mitzva to help a relative even when they are not in need of Tzedakah rather just help that has a consequence of monetary value.

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Asking a general question requires a general and detailed answer:

  1. The idea of Tzedakah in the Torah is very broad and applies to practically all good deeds that are just (צדק) in the eyes of G-d and people - from learning Torah to keeping all the Mitzvot to. (see צדקה - ביאור for the list of Torah verses)

  2. Traditionally, the Sages narrowed the use of this word down to the Mitzvah of helping the needy only (ibid). And so it appears in all Halachic books, see Rambam (Matnot-Aniyim)

  3. The Sages did not define a needy very clearly, in terms of his income or lifestyle and whether the need is truly physiological (nothing to eat) or psychological (wants a better life).

  4. From this, we can infer that giving money to any [Jew] can be considered a Mitzvah of Tzedakah as long as one is not obligated to pay: either as a debt (paying a loan or a salary) or a Halachic obligation (a fine, woman's Ketubah, supporting kids under age of 6 etc.).

  5. To break down your question:

    • Regarding the parents, the Halacha concludes that one is not obligated to spend his own money on honoring the parents, therefore supporting them falls rightfully under Tzedakah.

    • Supporting the kids is a big Machloket, how much, for how long and how strong is one obligated to support them, so giving $5 to 5yo boy to buy lunch at school is probably NOT Tzedakah as he's obligated to feed him, but buying a $950 iPhone to a "needy" teenager might be.

    • Supporting the wife is an obligation and cannot fall under Tzedakah. So if you buy your wife a diamond ring, don't call yourself a Tzaddik!

    • Supporting in-laws and grandparents and more distant relatives is a true Tzedakah, as there's no obligation to do so.

  6. The Mitzvah of Tzedakah is unrelated to one's intentions, so even if one does it to brag or expect a favor, it still counts as Tzedakah.

  • This is interesting but as always, sources would improve the answer. Also I thought there was no mitzva of tsedaka but it was a well-recognized minhag. I am pretty sure no one would qualify a 950$ iPhone as tzedaka no matter how much he wants it! – mbloch Aug 24 '18 at 13:03
  • Re #3 - The Torah did, in a sense. In pasrhat r'eh it says that you should give the poor "sufficient fro his lacking." There is some story (I believe in the Gemarah) where a Rav sent his servant to give money to a poor person. The servant arrives and sees that the person has fancy foods on his table. The servant returns to the rav and complains that the other is, in fact, not poor at all. The rav gives the servant more money and tells him to return to the other as the rav said, "I didn't realize that he was lacking in the fancy food that he is used to eating." So, "poor" is not just "broke". – DanF Aug 24 '18 at 14:05
  • @mbloch I think Danf just answered you. BTW that's why I said "might" be. If we decide such a phone is a standard highschool equipment... – Al Berko Aug 25 '18 at 18:51

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