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Dear Rabbi Simon,
I have some ma’aser queries that I would be grateful if you could help me with. I made a complaint to two separate companies, due to a defect in their products, which made them unusable. (Although the amounts involved are modest, I want to be exacting in the mitzvah, as well as to establish the halakhic principles involved.) I received a £4 voucher for one and a £5 voucher for another. Do I need to take ma’aser from these vouchers? Also, I had a delayed train journey and as a result the company offered some compensation. I was sent a cheque last week for £14.50. Do I need to take ma’aser from this amount? Finally, loyalty points from store cards such as Boots, Kosher Kingdom etc., where are you rewarded for every pound you spend with a point which can then be used as currency in store either for money off your purchases or to cover the cost of it, must one give ma’aser from that?
Thank you so much in advance for your help, much appreciated.
Many thanks,
Tzipora

Hi Tzipora
I have looked into your interesting questions (variations on a theme). It would seem that you are not obligated to deduct ma’aser from the compensation you received for the faulty or otherwise unsatisfactory products you purchased. WRT the compensation for delayed travel, strictly speaking you should deduct ma’aser from the £17.50. Even if we view this as payment for your (lost) time, one who earns a salary is paid for her time as well (=salary), and of course one is obligated to give ma’aser from that money.
However, you are entitled to view your income (net of tax) as a total amount, and subtract from it your essential living expenses, and give ma’aser only from the residual amount.
Regarding ma’aser from loyalty points, it would seem that you do not have to give ma’aser, as it can be compared to a non-monetary gift. Although there are different opinions on the subject, the general practice (following Hazon Ish, Shevet ha-Levi and others) is that there is no obligation to give ma’aser on the value of a non-monetary gift.
I hope this is helpful.
Rabbi Rashi Simon

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Questions and Answers

Ask the Rabbi: Quinoa on Pesach
Dear Rabbi Simon,
Where do you stand on quinoa (and the kitniyot ban) for Pesach?
Many thanks,
Tzippy
***
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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