Tzedakah Calculation

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Dear Rabbi Simon,
I have a question regarding giving charity.
If I had committed to giving a set amount each month to charity and I decide to give this charity through a service like, where they take 5% comission for the use of their very good service, surely it is up to me to give an additional 5% as my potential beneficiaries are receiving 5% less than they ought to, had I given to them directly. Only I benefit from using their service so it must come out of my pocket? Your thoughts on this would be most appreciated.

Hi Tzippy
Thank you for your ma’aser [tithe] question: AAC provide a service for which they receive a commission. You have the license to choose to give your מעשר  through AAC, which is itself a deserving charitable enterprise. The fact that you pay them for their services does not necessitate your giving more to make up the difference. (Of course giving more tzedakah is always praiseworthy, but insofar as your ma’aser obligation is concerned you have discharged it when you give to/via Achisomoch.)
The interesting question to consider is if the government’s Gift Aid rebate, collected by AAC on your behalf and then credited to your account, also counts toward your 10% or if you must give 10% irrespective of HM Tax and Revenue’s additional contribution. There are different views on this. For further discussion.
Rabbi Rashi Simon

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Ask the Rabbi: Quinoa on Pesach
Dear Rabbi Simon,
Where do you stand on quinoa (and the kitniyot ban) for Pesach?
Many thanks,
Dear Tzippy,
In line with other American authorities, I am in favour of quinoa. Although I reject completely the voices (mostly from Israel) seeking to abolish the ban on kitniyot entirely, IMO we do not need to include in the prohibition pseudo-grains that were unknown in the Old World until modern times. Best to buy with a Pesach hechsher though, to be free of any possible wheat contamination.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
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