The sum which is tithed from income need not, in
practice, be set apart from the actual monies earned. It can be taken
from any other funds so long as it is equal to one tenth of the income
and designated as the tithe for that income.
If the tithe was not taken on the condition that the
funds could be used for any mitzvah purpose, they must be distributed to
the poor and to Torah scholars. The Shitah Mikubtzet cites Rabbi Hameili
as saying that the tithe taken from income is like the tithe that was
given to the Kohanim and Leviim to strengthen them in Torah.
Tithe money may be given to poor relatives. Indeed,
they take priority to other poor people. But the entire sum of the tithe
should not be given to one poor relative at the expense of others. (The
relatives of the husband take priority to the relatives of his wife.)
The poor in Israel take priority to the poor in the rest of the world,
and the poor in Jerusalem take priority to the poor in the rest of
Israel. (It is not clear whether the poor in the new city of Jerusalem
share this status.) Nevertheless, the poor of one’s city take priority
to the poor of Israel.
A person who is accustomed to giving tithe money to
one poor person should not change his custom and give it to another, for
the law of makirei kahuna applies to the tithe taken from income.
Even though we said that a person should not give all
his tithe to one poor person, he may be required to if his father is
indigent and he cannot provide for him adequately from his own funds.
But if he can, he should not support his father from tithe money.
It is permitted to give tithe money to grown married
children when they do not have enough to eat. It is also permitted to
use tithe money to feed guests that are dependent upon him when the
expense of feeding them is great. The expense of feeding one’s
children who are less then six years old may not be deducted from tithe
money, but there is disagreement among the poskim whether the expense of
feeding children who are six years old and older can be deducted.
Nevertheless, if a person is under great financial
stress, he can be lenient and pay tuition for his children that are
being taught Torah She’baal Peh. He may not deduct the expense of
teaching his son Torah She’bichtav because he himself is obligated to
do that. If a child needs extra help in his studies from a private tutor
in order to advance in Torah learning and yiras Shamaim, he may hire a
poor Torah scholar and pay him from tithe money.
Similarly, it is permitted to use tithe money to hire
Torah scholars to learn with boys who are faltering and in danger of
leaving Torah. There is no greater charity than this. It has top
priority, for it is truly a matter of life and death.
It is allowable for a person to be lenient and to pay
his daughter’s tuition with tithe money, since he is not obligated to
instruct them. Since women are instructed in yiras shamaim, modesty and
good midos, this is considered a mitzvah expense, and may only be
defrayed with tithe money if, as stated above, it was taken on the
condition that it could be used for mitzvah expenses.