Tipping Etiquette

Is it really necessary?

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Comments (26)

(22) Zvika, February 25, 2015 2:07 PM

Tipping in many cultures IS part of their wage

1) If there is no mention in the bible of a person deserving reasonable compensation for their work, then that is the fault of the biblical writers.
2) In American culture (and others), tipping is a portion of the reasonable wage for work. So not tipping, unless the service is extremely poor, is receiving a service and not paying for it. A diner pays the owner for the food, and a large portion of the waiter's wage for the service. This makes lack of a tip to be an unenforceable theft, which is surely wrong, even in the bible.
I am sure I would feel this way even if I was never a waiter; but having been a waiter many years ago, I know that the tips I received merely brought my salary to a reasonable level. The minimum wage for waiters is BELOW the standard minimum wage.
In Israel, the tip used to be automatically added (10%, later 12%), and service was poor. Now service is much better and tips are expected and given.

(21) Anonymous, February 21, 2015 12:59 AM

I Love these Discussions!

I love these questions - taking daily situations and asking - what is right, what is wrong, what is written?
In this circumstance, I'll bet the friend never had to work as a waiter! Yes, waiters are paid, but most restaurants make the salary deliberately low, knowing the lure of the job, IS the tips.
At least in the US.
Thanks so much!

(20) Lowell Nigoff, February 21, 2015 12:42 AM


So Rabbi, When was the last time you got a tip?

(19) Anonymous, February 20, 2015 9:35 PM

Demanded appriciation feels more like extortion.

Tipping??? Yeah, I tip, even when the service is barely minimal. But I think it shouldn't exist. An employer should pay decent pay, and figure it into their product/service price. Regarding what the other comments were, I have some thoughts. 1. Federal minimum wage may be low, but many state's minimum wage is pretty high. 2. The tip shouldn't be related to the employee's base pay. Tips should only be for above and beyond service. 3. Don't assume certain jobs pay low, and others high, regardless of what you the customer pays the owner of the business. I made more as a part-time salesperson at Sears (minimum wages plus overtime on holidays,etc.) than I did my first year as a full-time Accountant at a CPA firm, (where I worked 60-80 hours a week at a fixed salary...because I was a "professional"). "Professionals" get a fixed salary, regardless of the hours one works. In the end, at that place, I didn't even make 1/2 minimum wage...and did I get tips??? No. But I didn't need tips to do a good job, because I have pride in my work, (an olden day concept I think now, based on service I see others do, often doesn't exist any more). 4. It feels like we must "tip" each teacher our children has (which is one thing with 1 child and 1 good teacher, but another when one has many children and each child has many teachers, some bad ones too, though out the day). The schools collect money from the student's parents (to be turned in to their teachers) for the collection to be spent on "teacher appreciation day/week". This is in addition to the other gifts one gives their teacher though out that week/year. Classes with 100% participation get prizes, and if 1 kid doesn't turn in the amount, they feel terrible because everyone knows it's their (parents) fault, as the teacher keeps reminding that kid that they didn't turn in anything yet, in front of the other kids. It's extortion, as you or your kid will be bad mouthed to all the teachers and students if not done.

(18) Yosef, February 20, 2015 2:27 PM

torah source

Thanks for addressing this important topic.

I believe there is a Torah source for tipping, Ha'anaka, the gifts to a freed eved ivri, Devorim 15:13-14.

Also, in addition to the potential for kiddush Hashem, one must consider the potential for chilul Hashem, chas v'shalom, if a worker is left with the impression that a Jews are cheap or ingrates.

(17) Anonymous, February 20, 2015 5:50 AM

Tipping is how employers steal from employees

by taking their salaries from them and forcing everyone to pay more directly to them. Tipping should not be permitted because it makes the cost of living appear to be lower when it is really higher. People expect to be tipped, especially women who use their power to ban people who don't tip from the place buy refusing to serve them. (Yes that really happens because it has happened to me several times since I don't tip either.)

Zvika, February 25, 2015 2:12 PM

I'm glad you are banned

You receive a service and do not pay for it. The price of the meal would be higher if there were no tips to partially cover the waiter's salary.
You are merely cheap and uncaring to the waiters; and not considering the big picture (that nothing is free and you would otherwise need to pay more for your meal).
From now on, if you think the employer should pay the waiter more, give the owner extra money and let the owner raise the waiter's wage

(16) Pat Z, February 20, 2015 12:18 AM

Tip restaurant workers!

The Federal Minimum Wage for restaurant servers in the United States is $2.85 an hour. Really. These individuals genuinely NEED tips to survive while the restaurant owners make out like bandits. It's a bad system, but whenever anyone tries to fix it, the hospitality industry flexes its considerable muscle and defeats passage of any remedial laws. Next time you eat out, ask your server how much he/she gets paid.

(15) Anonymous, February 19, 2015 8:56 PM

massechet megillah daf 28a

In this gemara a student asks his rabbi, Rabbi Nachunia what he attributes to him getting long life. One of the rabbi's answers is because he is liberal with his money. The gemara comes to explain further that Iyov was also liberal with his money, and he gave the whole coin to the man that sold him the item. It is explained to mean that even when something costed a half a coin, he gave the entire coin and let the man keep the change. I believe we can find a reward of long life from being liberal with the money Hashem gives us and of coarse make a wonderful kiddish Hashem.

(14) Anonymous, February 19, 2015 5:25 PM

TIPS is an acronym T= to, I=insure, P=prompt, S=service

In this county employers pay a token salary to service employees because they believe that TIPS will encourage the service personnel to give their all to customers, and for the most part it works. Because a service employee is getting compensated based on their performance service improves. There will always be service personnel with preconceived ideas about which type of customer will tip better or worse but most of the time when earnings are a direct reflection of performance you get a better employee. So if your friend is walking around in yarmulke and tzitzis a kiddish Hashem is behavior is not, ; unless of course he always receives sub-standard service.

(13) Sylvia, February 19, 2015 4:17 PM

I agree :)

I truly agree! I am in a service field and I am so appreciative of the tips my clients give me. We as people are given so much, are we not to also to give to others? Because I am in a service field I am very mindful of giving tips to others generously. Sometimes people will not tip well depending on if they were served well, but you never know what someone may be going through. We should give because of having a heart of goodness and remembering that we too have challenging days. Hashem gives so much to us, we too are created to give to others :)

(12) Anonymous, February 19, 2015 4:15 PM

Food servers may not make minimum wage

Some food servers may not make minimum wage. They rely on tips. Also, if a customer decamps without paying the bill, in many restaurants the server may have to pay out of her/his own pocket.

(11) Benjamin, February 19, 2015 2:51 PM

Not Tipping is Either Cheating or Stealing!

As others have already pointed out, tips are a core part of the compensation for workers (Jewish and non-Jewish) in service industries. This is their par nossa! If your friend doesn't want to tip he is stealing -- or at least cheating! And you don't have to dive deep into the Gemara to figure that one out! Shame on him!

(10) Danny, February 19, 2015 2:09 PM


Thank goodness this tipping business is not prevalent in the UK. Here we pay the correct price for services and don't tip, unless the person has gone out of their way in some special way to do something extra, in which case the tip reflects that

Leah, February 20, 2015 5:37 AM

Unless the person has gone out of their way

You are exactly right! A tip is like a little bonus from the customer to the server to show appreciation for excellent service! If I get lousy service, why tip? If I have to serve myself by walking up to the counter, placing and paying for my order and take it back to the table myself the I'm going to tip myself! Everybody has a cup on their counter for tips! Why should I tip the boy at the pizza counter if I walk in and pick it up myself?

(9) yossi, February 19, 2015 12:36 AM

showing appreciation

Of course everyone must tip in order to show gratitude. Remember, all the people in the service industry are earning a low base salary. Tipping is part and parcel of their gross salaries. Therefore, it is incumbent for you to tip.
In my opinion, there is a source in the Torah. When you release a servant that worked for you for 6 years, the Torah specifically states that you must shower him with many gifts. Why? You already paid him for his work. The answer is, that you have to show your gratitude!

(8) SFB, February 18, 2015 10:01 PM

Why can't restaurant owners pay their workers?

I don't understand how tipping became a substitute for paying workers what they deserve. It seems like restaurant owners are getting away with almost free labor if they are paying their wait staff very little and relying on tips to make up the difference. They should pay a normal salary and let the tips be a bonus if people choose to leave one. But in today's world, it's considered quite rude not to leave a tip and that bothers me. FYI, I choose to leave generous tips because I want to make a Kiddush Hashem. But I wish the product I purchase at restaurants came without a surcharge.

Why is the restaurant industry any different than the clothing industry? Having a really hands-on helpful saleslady is more important to me than a great waitress. But I'm not going to tip a saleslady. Her boss pays her. Can't it be the same at restaurants?

Canuck of the North, February 19, 2015 3:52 PM

I agree with SFB.

Many (though admittedly not all) restaurant owners are rich. So why are we patrons subsidizing wealthy business owners by paying part of their employees' remuneration? Another point is that readers ought to be stunned by Rabbi Salomon's figure of "$400 billion" for the USA's annual "tipping industry." Does this mean that the average American -- man, woman & child -- spends well over $1,000 a year on tips? Hopefully their is an error here, including the possibility that I have misinterpreted the infomation.

(7) Rachel, February 18, 2015 1:53 AM

how the other half lives

I guess your nontipping friend doesnt have friends in these service industries.

My college educated daughter worked for months before and after graduating with honors as a waitress. Because her official salary is far less than minimum wage, most weeks she got no paycheck from the restaurant. And she reports and is taxed on the income she receives from tips.

People like your friend should not use services if they are unwilling to tip. And I dont see what the Torah has to do with the customer, since US labor law is not governed by Torah. However, it would be great if all Jewish business owners would follow the Torah and not underpay their workers.

Pamela Kahane, February 19, 2015 10:07 PM

Food service workers are taxed on a percentage of their sales

The IRS assumes food servers earned 20% of their sales and taxes servers on that figure. If a server has a bad day with to many people who don't tip for whatever reason they end up paying taxes on money they did not earn. If you all don't get it if management pays wait staff more the price of the meal will go up to cover the cost.

(6) Nancy, February 17, 2015 5:57 PM

I was reminded of an experience I once had

Many years ago I was in a restaurant and gave what I felt was an adequate tip. (Believe me, it was MORE than 15%!) As I walked out of the restaurant, the manager followed me and asked if there was anything wrong with the service I had gotten! This particular restaurant has since gone out of business. With the attitude of entitlement displayed by the manager, I was not at all surprised to hear that the restaurant had gone under. Re: Tipping counselors at camp. I agree 100% with the poster who said counselors should be paid better so they do not need to depend on tips.

(5) SusanE, February 17, 2015 5:22 AM

Most people don't Understand the Business

$400 Billion dollar industry. The competition for a good waitress or a bartending job is brutal. Their tip money is astounding and underreported. Don't worry about the poor waitress or bartender starving. The ones I know make more income a month than I do. Because most wait persons and female bartenders make more than salaried management......they would never work for $10 an hour. And YOU are paying their wages. Being on their feet all day, carrying trays and smiling and being chatty is hard work that I couldn't do. More power to their tips. They and the restaurant have a great thing going there. I don't begrudge them a penny of it. -

Tipping in General? I think it has become huge. Used to be 15% of the bill. A $6 dollar hamburger would be 90 cents. Really, is anyone so cheap that they would leave less than a dollar for anything? I happen to tip for services. . I leave an $8 tip for a $12 dollar haircut because I just love her...... and at restaurants about 25%.

I wish tipping at the table would stop. In Europe they take care of it on the bill with always the correct percent for the server. I tip London cabbies because they are amazing and carry my luggage. I give small gifts to airline pilots, and attendants who get us home and back safely.

(4) Simcha, February 16, 2015 11:52 PM


You are helping to provide a job. That, if I recall, is at the top of the Rambam's list. I wouldn't tip a doctor or Derek Jeter but the people who get tipped probably wouldn't be able to work solely for their wages. The tip, and the purchase, enables someone to have a job. How much better than a handout could this be?
And the rabbi is right, what a kiddush HaShem when someone sees someone they know is Jewish do something to help them.

(3) Sidney, February 16, 2015 4:51 AM

Of Course You Should Tip

Of Course You Should Tip (baring a terrible experience)
Even without the Kiddush Hashem aspect one should tip.
Don't you know that many waiters are paid less than the minimum wage for other workers because the government assumes that they are tipped?
In fact the IRS assumes a percentage of base pay is earned by normally tipped workers.
Not tipping is morally (and possibly halachically) stealing and is a Chillul Hashem when tipping is the accepted custom.

(2) Chavi, February 15, 2015 11:26 PM

expression of appreciation for good service

A tip should not be required. If one is pleased with the service one got, the tip should indicate to the server that his service was appreciated. If the service was not good, the tip should be withheld. Although I normally do tip, I was once in a restaurant where the service was so bad (non-existent) that I did not tip and I told the manager why. He got really angry at me. Shortly after, restaurants started adding mandatory tips to the bill. I find it offensive that the people who hire people who expect to get tips pay their employees less, which means that in addition to the service we are already paying full price for, we are expected to subsidize the owner's payroll as well?? This is especially true in summer camps. Parents pay through the nose to send their children to camp, and then the camp owners don't pay their staff adequately, because they expect counselors to get tips from the parents to make up the difference. I think that's robbery and a lot of nerve! They are taking unfair advantage of both the parents who are already paying top dollar (enough to cover a generous salary for counselors) and they are not paying their staff a fair wage.

(1) Mordechai, February 15, 2015 12:18 PM

Forcing tips on customers

Tipping should not be forced down our throats as many restaurants add a 15% tip to the bill. What if the service is bad? I'm all for tipping, but not when it's forced on you. If customers would stop frequenting these restaurants, perhaps some sanity would prevail, and they'd get the point that a tip must be voluntary. It's not polite not to tip, but that doesn't give one the justification to force it on all of us.


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