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Preference in Tzedaka

Question:
I saw a machlokes netween the Pitchei Teshuva and the Aruch Hashulchan if in laws have the same status of parents in regard to kedima with tzedaka or they have a lesser status. what is the minhag haolam? thank you

Answer:

When dealing with a question that is not a very common one, there is generally no “minhag haolam” to determine the psak. Minhag is a determining factor for widely asked common everyday scenarios. The question of kedima for parents / in-laws is not a common one for a number of reasons. The Gemara in Kedushin 32a tells us that while one may support parents with his charity money, if one has the means he should not support them with his tzedaka money, but rather with money not included in his tzedaka accounting. There is however a discussion in the poskim with regards to the use of Maaser Ksafim which is beyond the letter of the law obligation of tzedaka. See Shu”t Maharil [54] and Shu”t Shevet Halevi 5-133].

With regards to the actual dispute between the Pitchei Tshuva and Aruch Hashulchan, the P”T is quoting an earlier source, the Shu”t Maharam Mintz [7]. A careful reading of his words displays that not only is the source for his ruling unclear, in fact it is not conclusive if he actually meant to give one’s relatives kedima over his wife’s relatives. The Aruch Hashulchan finds no source for this distinction.

There may be even more reason to equate one’s parents and in-laws in our times where in many homes, the wife in fact has a large share in the earnings. The halachic status of those earnings is a matter of much debate, and she may in fact be the owner of these funds, in which case it would be her money to give tzedaka to her relatives from.

It would seem L’Maaseh, that parents and in-laws should be treated equally with regards to tzedaka. In any event a Rav should be consulted with the particular details and dynamics of each case such as this, involving family, husband and wife and the like.

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