[The proper distribution of ma’aser funds, continued:]
Some of the Acharonim (Later Authorities) write that one is permitted to use ma’aser money for fulfilling various mitzvos, such as to pay for the privilege of being a sandek at a bris or to be called up to the Torah reading. Or, they say, one is permitted to use the money to purchase sefarim (holy books) and lend them out to others or use them himself. But in this last case he should write in them that they were bought with ma’aser money so that after his demise the inheritors will not take the books for themselves.
However, other authorities write that ma’aser money should not be used for such mitzvos but only for the poor. Nevertheless, it seems that if the father of the baby is poor and by giving him money in exchange for being the sandek the father will have the financial means to pay for the expenses of the bris — then it is permissible to use the ma’aser money for this purpose. Similarly, if he is buying sefarim for people who cannot afford to buy them, then there is no reason to refrain from doing so, since it is considered actual tzedakah. As for using the ma’aser money to purchase an aliyah at the Torah reading, if the money will be distributed to the poor, then it is permitted.
It is forbidden, however, to use ma’aser money to pay the tuition for one’s children’s Torah education. This is because it is actually the father’s duty to teach them himself or to hire teachers for them if he is unable to teach them himself, and it is not allowed to pay off one’s debts (obligations) with ma’aser money. But it is permitted to give ma’aser money to the teachers of other poor people’s children, and, in fact, it is considered a very great mitzvah.