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    Giving Maaser and Chomesh

    In Bereishis (28:22) the posuk tells us that Yaakov promised Hashem if he will come home peacefully, he will give “aser aasrenu” (will give maaser.)

    The gemara in Kesubos (50a) says that a person should not spend more than a chomesh, a fifth, for a mitzvah, hence the double lashon of aser aasrenu. This is brought down lehalacha in Rema, Yoreh Deah (249:1).

    Why does the Torah use a double lashon of maaser and not straight out use the language of chomesh? The Shita Mekubetzes in Kesubos (50a) answers that it is better to give the money in a staggered way rather than giving it all at once. It is preferable to give a dollar one thousand times to different poor people than give one poor person the sum of one thousand dollars.

    The gemara in Pesachim (49a) says that a person should sell everything that he possesses in order to marry the daughter of a talmid chochom. How can somebody do that when we pasken in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim (756) in the Rema that it is forbidden to spend more than a fifth of one’s possessions in order to do a mitzvah?

    One answer could be that if a person marries the daughter of an am ha’aretz, she might be machshil him in eating things that are assur. In the same above mentioned siman we see that a person must spend all of his money not to transgress a negative commandment, so marrying a daughter of an am ha’aretz would fall into the geder of a lo sa’aseh and therefore one should sell all of his possessions in order to marry a bas talmid chochom.

    Another tirutz that can be said concerns spending money to be mekayem a mitzvas temidi. A person would be required to spend all of his money in order to do so. The Rambam in Hilchos Deios (6:2) says that marrying a bas talmid chochom falls under the category of “uvo sidbak.” By marrying a woman who is a bas talmid chochom, the man is constantly being mekayem this mitzvah so he may spend all of his money. The Shulchan Aruch says that one should not spend more than a chomesh since such a ruling applies only to a mitzvah that is not done constantly.

    We can say a third tirutz based on the Taz in Even Ha’ezer (2:6) that states the reason why a person should marry a bas talmid chochom is so that his wife should understand the chashivus of Torah and not make him go out to work. When it comes to learning Torah, there is a mitzvah to spend all your money in order to be able to learn; hence the reason why one can spend all his money in order to marry a bas talmid chochom.

    May we all be zocheh to learn Torah behasmada!