May I use tzedakah money to pay a fine incurred while doing a mitzvah?

May I use tzedakah money to pay a fine incurred while doing a mitzvah?

If one received a summons while involved in a shlichus mitzvah (a mission to perform a mitzvah), such as being mekarev Jews to Yiddishkeit (bringing Jews closer to the observance of mitzvos), can tzedakah money or ma’aser (tithed) money be used to pay for the fine?

The halachah is that while tzedakah money may only be used to support the poor, ma’aser money may be utilized for other non-obligatory mitzvos as well. Therefore, the ticket may be paid with ma’aser money, provided that:

The ticket was not issued due to one’s own negligence.

This had been the plan all along. However, if one was initially resigned to paying the fine out of pocket, then the option of paying the fine with ma’aser money is no longer available, as this would now be considered retracting a commitment to tzedakah

According to some opinions, the decision to use ma’aser money for any mitzvah-related expense would have to be made at the time that the individual committed to begin separating ma’aser from their earnings. However, since it is the general custom to use ma’aser money for other mitzvos, having this in mind at that juncture is not necessary. Certainly, if one has ma’aser money specifically earmarked for outreach activities, the fine may be paid with that ma’aser money. #507?1

Practical Halacha: One minute a day. By Horav Yosef Yeshaya Braun, shlita, Mara D'asra and member of the Badatz of Crown Heights.