|Ask Rabbi Simmons|
According to my friend, one should tithe 30% of his/her income. I don't believe this is correct. What does the Bible say about tithe?
Back from the time that Abraham welcomed the strangers into his tent (Genesis chapter 18), charity has been a foundation of Jewish life. The Torah commands us to give 10 percent of our earnings to people in need, based on Leviticus 25:35 and Deut. 15:7-8. This is called Ma'aser, literally "one tenth" (hence the English word "tithe"). This is colloquially called tzedakah (charity), which Maimonides lists charity as one of the 613 mitzvahs.
Ten percent of a person's wages after taxes should be set aside for tzedakah. Business expenses and Jewish education costs may be deducted from the 10 percent. (Some people deduct only two-thirds of a boy's Torah education cost.)
For those who want to do extra, the Torah allows you to give 20 percent. Above that amount is unrealistic. If you give too much, you'll come to neglect other aspects of your life.
To learn more, read "Ma'aser Kesafim - Giving a Tenth to Charity" edited by Cyril Domb (Feldheim), and "Permission to Receive," by Lawrence Kellemen (Targum Press). See also: "Code of Jewish Law" Y.D. 249:2; "Igrot Moshe"(R' M. Feinstein) Y.D. II, 112; "Orchat Rabeinu (R' Y. Kanievsky) I, 302.With blessings from Jerusalem,
Rabbi Shraga Simmons