Are we tarnishing our Mitzvos with falsehood?

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    The little I know

    Just wondering. We are sometimes alerted that there are collectors of “tzedakah” in our communities that truly represent causes other than what they claim. Among some that are alarming are those supposedly seeking support for providing meals to the hungry, while they are actually looking to fund the travel escapades of the escaping Lev Tahor cult members and leaders. Someone alerted me recently to someone collecting for “Poor Bnei Yeshivos” that is really seeking funding for the anti-vaxx movement. Regardless of a position on vaccines, I question whether that is called tzedokoh. We have all received phone solicitations with live callers claiming that “You were so generous to donate $36 in last year’s campaign. Could you repeat it or increase it for this year?” Trouble is, I never heard of this organization, and certainly never gave them a dime.

    Is it permissible in halacha to fabricate a story to collect tzedakah? Does it matter if the tzedakah is legitimate or not? I am aware that there is a midah kineged midah, in which we are scrutinized as much by Hashem giving to us as we scrutinize others. But once we know, what is our responsibility? Who authorizes the use of sheker to collect for a cause? Are we allowed to misrepresent a cause in order to obtain more money?

    I know I am offended by this, and it is not my personal greed. I feel that I am supporting dishonesty, and I should not be doing that. What do others think?

    Reb Eliezer

    If collectors come or from a fund, try to get some acknowledgement letter from a gadol.


    There is no heter at all to tell a lie so as to collect tzedakah. You cannot do a mitzvah by lying; Hashem demands that we be truthful in all our dealings. (Yoma 86a)
    Tzedakah must certainly be legitimate, too, or else we have done no mitzvah. (BK 16b) What “legitimate” means is hard to say, and will depend on one’s judgment and his Rebbe’s wisdom, but in each case it must be determined.
    Personally I would recommend never taking a collector’s word unsupported. One is not only entitled but almost obligated to find out reliably to whom one is giving and what for.


    Certain Rabbis claim to be in Ukraine when in fact they are living in the USA or Israel


    R Kamenetsky’s first job in America was to collect tzedokah o behalf of some organization. He asked someone for an amount “that is same you give last year”. The businessman checked his books and said – you made a mistake, my last year donation was less, please tell them to correct. R Yaakov said – sorry I can’t – I don’t work for them any more, I just resigned.


    This seems to be complicated. Many say that it is not a problem to give even when the recipient is dishonest – “you will get a reward anyway”. I asked the Rav what to do with “out of (my) town” “in town” visitors who scroll their phones until davening ends and then go around? (I saw him giving them). Rav suggested not to refuse at all, but “give a dollar”. Then, I realized why he is always getting money out of the same drawer to give – this is where he had single dollars.


    The entire world of fundraising has become a hotbed of blackmail, lies and distortions. There is no such thing as a straightforward fundraising campaign where they present what they do and ask for your donation. No, now they’ll swear that every gadol promises the world if you donate. Then there are guaranteed segulos for every problem under the sun. Then there is the blackmail campaigns begin. Every of your 8 siblings, and 50 of your friends, and your monkey’s uncle, has to send you their fundraising team page for their shul, each of their 7 kids’ yeshivas, the 8 organizations they like, etc…, and then you have the social pressure to donate to 185 different campaigns each year…. after all, you can’t not donate when your dear sibling/friend has sent you the link and reminded you 3 times that the campaign ends soon.
    Then there are the sports fundraisers. Bike for this, run for that, rappel, skydive, swim, etc. Fundraising had never been so much fun.
    I’m sick of all the slimy techniques.

    ☕️coffee addict


    Wow! They meshulachim are so nice in oot!

    Where I live the meshulach sometimes collects in the middle of davening (shema)

    Needless to say, those I don’t give anything


    These are your meshulachim, they ain’t local and they are dressed “in town” …
    Rav stops them from doing it in the middle. It looks like they have lists of times and rules in shuls. Maybe shared online?

    If this is a genuine need, though, I do not think we should stop that. After all, we are supposed to give tzedoka during davening. Does it have to be to a pushka rather than a person?

    Sometimes you can see that the person is really in trouble and even why. I saw one guy several times. he is always distracted, running out every 5 minutes talking on the phone. Once, maybe it was an emergency. But many times – I did not see company CEOs getting so many important calls during davening. Maybe this guy was running some multi-level multi-shul scam and coordinating assaults? Would giving a mussar advice be a substitute for tzedokah? I was thinking about arranging with some local business to recommend them to go work there for a day. Would it be offensive to give a business card?

    Avram in MD


    “Rav suggested not to refuse at all, but “give a dollar”. Then, I realized why he is always getting money out of the same drawer to give – this is where he had single dollars.”

    I think this is an excellent practice.

    The little I know


    You are correct, and you are also wrong. The connection of tefiloh and tzedokoh is found in two places. רבי אליעזר יהיב פרוטה לעני והדר מצלי. Rabi Eliezer would give a prutah to a poor person and would then daven. This tzedokoh prior to davening seems to refer to each tefiloh, Shacharis, Mincha, and Maariv. This is divrei Chazal. There is also a minhag, referenced by the Ari Zal, to give tzedokoh during the recitation of ויברך דוד.

    As far as collecting, there is no reference about this being required. Rather, it is a convenience for the collector to find people together to seek donations, not different from the collecting that is done by weddings or other gatherings. It has been happening for eons.

    However, poskim address the matter of disturbing tefiloh, and prohibit collecting during parts of davening when the hefsek is either forbidden or disgraceful. Collecting during Shema is terrible. One may not interrupt Shema at all. Mishna Berurah is adamant about not collecting during Kriyas Hatorah, saying it is a bizayon for the Torah. Sadly, few collectors are careful to avoid disrespecting the tefiloh or the mispalel. I sympathize with their desperation. Even those collecting for very legitimate causes have been disruptive.

    This discussion is timely. We embark soon on the holy day of Purim when collecting reaches an annual frenzy. Yeshivos typically mobilize their talmidim to raise money, insisting that this helps balance their budgets. In another thread, we might debate this. But it is not the rule that children are properly taught to respect either tefiloh or the mispalel. They often bang their pushkas during Megillah reading. I was shocked to see bochurim doing this.

    Tzedokoh is a precious mitzvah. Tainting it with dishonesty and disturbing tefiloh is unacceptable.


    Avram > I think this is an excellent practice.

    Agree, except need to watch inflation – soon giving a dollar will be as insulting as giving a quarter.

    inquisitive girl

    justlookingin, i feel the same. I told my friends not to send me their fundraising pages because I give my maaser to specific relatives that need the money. It says to give tzedakah to your relatives first. i suggest you all do the same.


    @inquisitive girl:
    I usually try to just donate $18 or so anonymously and tell the one who sent me the link that I gave anonymously. I can’t always get away with that, because the way these fundraisers are structured; the whole point is the pressure.
    It’s quite unbelievable how shnorrering from family & friends has become socially acceptable.
    I think it’s disgusting and wrong. Everyone knows you’re only donating because of the social pressure. What kind of tzedaka is that?


    There was a alter bucher from Lakewood who use collect for himself, one day he went around collecting saying he was getting married [a dream he had] and needed money, he showed letter from the Rav, the letter said “this man told me he is getting married I don’t know this for a fact but being that it’s a mitzva to believe a yid, I believe he is telling the truth.


    Always_Ask_Questions – That was Reb Shraga Feivel Mendelovitch. The story may have happened with Reb Yaakov too, for all I know.


    motcha, I thought I heard this about R Yaakov, but that charity might have gone thru a number of meshulachim 🙂

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