Oorah's Million Dollar Raffle

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    recently got my Oorah Auction book. What’s up with their Million Dollar Raffle?? will the escalation of chinese auctions and what they have to offer to get people to enter ever end? Is it really true that people won’t give tzedaka to a worthy cause without the incentive of one MILLION dollars??? (and that’s besides for the over the top prizes they are auctioning. kosher cruise, anyone?)


    They believe the end justifies the means. I believe the means defines the quality of the end. And I don’t like it.


    If they are raffling $1 million, they must be bringing in so much more than that.

    I find this a bit troubling, actually. I can think of many better uses for the national frum community’s tzedaka dollars than oorah.

    How about supporting your local day school which is heavily in the red and cannot afford to properly service the kids who are already frum.

    How about supporting your local yeshiva which is months behind on paying its rebbeim?

    How about supporting your local mikva, local chessed org, etc.


    1. In tougher economic times, I think it is easy to understand the forethought these tzeddaka organizations have, to offer greater incentives.

    2. We live in a society of “more, more, more”. You can either get on the bandwagon or not, but you can’t blame the tzeddaaka organizations for working within the reality of the situation.


    @popa_bar_abba “….How about supporting your local day school which is heavily in the red and cannot afford to properly service the kids who are already frum.”

    What in the world is that supposed to mean? there are different tzeddakas for different causes. what happens when there is a kid who shteiged in camp and is ready to go to yeshiva? How can you make a statement like that in a public forum?


    I am saying exactly that; I think it is more important to pay for the jewish education of frum children than non-frum children.


    The raffle isn’t for one million dollars. The winner gets 1,000 times their donation up to a million dollars. So if the winner conributed $100, their prize is $100,000. If the winner gave $5, the winner receives $5,000. A person who donated $1,000 will receive $1,000,000. Not so many people will be donating $1,000, hence chances are they won’t have to give the winner one million.

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    I think it is more important to pay for the jewish education of frum children than non-frum children.

    Yes, that’s why I always put in for the tuition prize.

    I also put in for “l’shem shamayim” so I can tell everyone what a tzaddik I am.


    And what if the winner gave 1000? How will they eat their nearly $1Mil loss?


    No need to rationalize every aspect of it. Nowadays Tzedakkah organizations need to come up with such strategies to obtain sponsors. If you don’t like it, just give Tzeddakkah to support Kiruv. They take “lishma” donations as well or even better – put in for the million dollars and if you win, you can give it all back!


    And what if the winner gave 1000? How will they eat their nearly $1Mil loss?

    They could buy insurance that the winner will not give $1000.

    They have these contests where you have to shoot a basketball from the opposite free throw line and if your make it, they give you $1 million dollars, They buy insurance against someone making that throw, its costs about $10,000. Oorah could buy similar insurance


    The whole auction/raffle is a major problem of asmachta lo kanya. It also encourages gambling and m’sachek b’kuvya.

    This hanhoga nefed hatorah is the gateway to casino visits and gambling addiction.

    You never see pictures of Gdolim buying a raffle ticket!

    (Only badly photo-shopped pictures of them giving to “certain” kupos of aniyay tzedaka – it is davka badly photo-shopped to avoid ram’ous, trickery)).


    100% agreed with popa.

    I guess its not as flashy to be involved with “inreach”, but it is infinitely more important. I don’t want to say anything negative about Kiruv but if we focused half as much attention and charisma back into the community we could have a much happier community.


    In your family, do you spend the majority of your medical bills on the healthy members of the family or on the sick ones?

    The spiritually healthy members of our community care enough about Torah and mitzvos to make them a priority. They will be mosser nefesh for chinuch, shabbos, kashrus etc.

    But lo aleinu the spiritually sick of our brethren (who don’t even realize that they are sick) will not extend themselves to send their children to yeshivas, spend extra for kashrus etc.

    These spiritually sick will eventually infect us all, so by helping them we also improve our health. Kiruv orgs are not for “them” but for “us” – to insure we remain spiritually safe.

    Besides this, arvus and ahvas yisroel keeps us away from the them vs us mentality.


    What a poor analogy. If you don’t see where the kiruv industry’s talents could be better directed internally then shame on you.


    Kiruv helps “us” – internally. We are One. The rechokim are in critical condition and need immediate life support. If we close our eyes and let them “die”, we will soon succumb too.


    After all this arguing… please note the 1 million they get is

    AS A DONATION so people donate more. in other words the money that people donate really gets to them and most of the prizes, graphics, marketing etc is all donated! otherwise, they will be keeping all the money that goes into and its a lot to the org.

    Unfortunately, as a weak generation and tzadakah needs to look appealing otherwise (most) people avoid tzedaka.

    no one feels they have money to spare.


    I highly doubt that a donor is covering the $1 Million potential payout.


    paying your tuition is the #1 priority or give to local places


    please note the 1 million they get is

    AS A DONATION so people donate more. in other words the money that people donate really gets to them and most of the prizes, graphics, marketing etc is all donated! otherwise, they will be keeping all the money that goes into and its a lot to the org.

    Sorry, that doesn’t work. They could solicit the money as a donation instead of as a prize. It only makes sense to solicit it as a prize if they are making so much money that it makes sense to offer a million dollar prize.


    When i was single, i loved giving the $250 for a “free” prize. Its a great way to ‘get’ people to give. Unfortunately i have too many close charities to give to and cant afford to give to the many requests i get.

    Unfortunately i have a weakness that if i do have ‘extra ma’aser’ left over, i will probably give it to a place that i can gain from. i know i sound very petty, its something i’m working on…


    Is it ma’aser if you “gain” something from it?! Even the potential of a “gain” has some monetary value and cannot be considered ma’aser. I am against all such prizes which contaminate and depreciate the tzeddakah given


    I think I have decided to give my maaser to a family on my block who needs it, rather than Oorah. Even though I really want the “free” gift.


    Looking through the booklet raises a few questions.

    How do they handle the Ribus issue of having different payouts for lump sum vs. the ten year option?

    There doesn’t seem to be a “No Donation” alternative method for entering which would make it an illegal lottery rather than a legal sweepstake.

    On a lighter note what happens when the winner of the Feivishmobile decides to sell it? Does the no modification limitation transfer to the new owner?


    Wow. I just got the solicitation and read the fine print. What do you know, they are violating hilchos ribbis. Are they equipped to represent us or do they just push the “beauty of judaism”? Sadly, this is just another thing to add to a list of problems with this “hype outreach” locomotive. What a misdirection of charity.

    I see that Dash already pointed out the ribbis issue.


    OorahScam is merely one millimeter above the Israeli-Tzedakah scams.

    As pointed out above, if you give money to a local day school, they can have more non-frum children enter on scholarship, besides reducing your own tuition. Personally, I don’t like kiruv at all, but that might just open up a can of worms.

    I. M. Here

    I am trying to understand why this $1,000,000 raffle bothers so many? If you look on the website, it’s a sponsored prize. This is not costing Oorah any money. If anything, it may get people to donate more than they would normally give so they gain from it.


    I M Here

    These organizations are ruining the mitzvah of Tzeddukah for klal Yisrael and I firmly believe that many of these Tzeddukah organizations should not be getting a penny from anyone who really wants to do the mitzvah of Tzeddukah.

    I actually very rarely give to the organizations that run splashy chinese auctions and raffles. The lower budget Tzeddukahs that don’t waste fortunes on advertising and all kinds of videos and gimmicks are more real and should receive our masser money. The more a Tzeddakah spends on advertising the less they can expect from me.


    I personally have benefitted tremendously from oorah. I remember when I was in twelfth grade thinking that my only relationship with them was the fact that they contributed towards the cost of my day school tuition, I mean, my mom was the one learning with a Torah Mate (and she is not religious, but nevertheless, that is the highlight of her week). Then I went on Discover U because I needed to go in order to get my scholarship money for this year from oorah. I honestly did not enjoy my time there because I didn’t really know anyone at the time and I thought it was a major turn off… BUT, once I got to Israel, I realized that most seminary girls are not able to just have a place to go every saturday night to chill, don’t have the option of automatically having a place to stay every other week, don’t have the ability to access numerous resources that I was able to access when I needed to switch schools, and if they do not have family that is religious that will open their doors to them- they are just stuck going to strangers houses for shabbos. As much as I used to dread having a relationship with oorah, I can honestly say that oorah has had a huge impact on my year, and I am now closer with the people I went on Discover U with than I was when I was there and since I am not exactly in a bais yaakov seminary right now, I am glad that I am able to have a more bais yaakov connection that I can count on. I am telling you, it is completely worth funding, the girls that benefit from oorah are an amazing group of girls, and even though there are a number of other places to give tzedakah to, oorah really goes all out and they are very accessible to people who are involved.

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    Dash and Squeak,

    What is the ribbis issue? I didn’t see the booklet. There’s a loan involved?


    Payments over time are double the lump sum.

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    Who’s borrowing money from whom? In other words, does winning a prize create a chov which is subject to ribbis?


    The winner is choosing a prize. Either he chooses the lump sum or either he chooses the periodical payout. The winner isn’t paying the payout in return for the periodical payments. Thus no ribbis.


    I’ll be the first to answer your questions directly:

    1.” What’s up” is that they’ve realized that it is economically efficient for them to offer prizes, particularly when the prizes are donated.

    2. No, as long as it’s economically efficient.

    3. No, as evidenced by all of the charity given without the incentive of a prize; however, given the choice between donating a dollar with the chance of earning a prize and a dollar without that possibility, any rational actor would choose the former.


    Joseph, your understanding of halacha is as shallow as the Great Sahara Lake.

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    If I sell something and give the buyer a choice of a smaller immediate payment or larger total payments over a longer period of time, it is a ribbis issue, despite the fact that it’s his choice. there is a chov, and the extra money, based on the extra time, is schar hamtonas maos. My question is, has a chov been created here with a raffle.

    There are ways around ribbis, aside from heter iska, such as involving karka in the transaction. It’s also not clear that there’s ribbis with an institution, although it’s certainly better not to rely on that.

    I wouldn’t jump to conclusions that there is ribbis (they’ve probably dealt with it), but I think it’s an interesting shailah.


    I don’t usually post here, so I guess that makes me a troll (though I’m not sure if that’s the right use of the term), but this topic so upset me, that I felt compelled to write.

    Firstly, let me make clear that I have no affiliation with Oorah whatsoever. I know and respect many of the individuals that do work there, but I have no compelling bias either for or against them. The utter naarishkeit of leveling accusations of ribis or esmachta at an organization run by individuals who, kulei alma lo pligi, are bnei Torah, is laughable. Did any of you call R’ Chaim Mintz before you whipped out your post for all to see? I’m not saying he’s the gadol haDor – I have no idea – but he’s not enough of a ben Torah that he deserves to be asked for a clarification before you write? Or does truth or accuracy matter that little to you as long as you can get a good post up there quickly?

    Now, as to the discussion of the value of donations to Kiruv Rechokim, let me start by saying that I have been involved in both Kiruv Rechokim as well as Kiruv Kerovim on a number of different levels for several decades. The crassness of pitting donations to kiruv against frum chinuch is ludicrous. Is the issue REALLY that simple? Has the frum community made its collective cheshbon hanefesh and cut back wherever they could, and NOW have to tap other valuable klal projects to cover the shortfall? You are actually prepared to close down kiruv rechokim before Pesach hotels, high end car leasing, the excessive silver, jewelry, clothing, wig and hat shops that fill the weekly papers and magazines in the frum neighborhoods? Or are you saying that chinuch is not as important as all of these things – but simple arvus? That should be the FIRST thing to go? I can’t do the math, but I would venture to guess that if you take even half the money spent on Pesach hotels, pre and post-pesach relaxation retreats, winter break trips to colorado, florida, white wolf, the Caribbean, etc. you would have a pretty nice fund to put towards reducing tuition costs, and have plenty left over to help the kiruv movement as well.

    And as for Kiruv workers turning their talents towards helping the frum community… that’s the funniest one of all… Why don’t you pick up the phone and call Danny Mechanic or Mordechai Becher, both of whom are solid, frum, guys, and ask them about the hoops they have to jump through before they are permitted to give shiurim in the “frum” schools! Most Kiruv guys I know would love to be asked to give shiurim in their kid’s schools, run special programs etc – free of charge… the problem isn’t that we’re not focused on the frum community, the problem is that the frum mosdos think they can deal with it themselves. If they make stricter rules, punish, threaten, cajole, or otherwise box the kids into cookie-cutter templates, everything will be fine. If they can just get the parents out of their way in educating the kids, then the kids wouldn’t be going off the derech. To blame Kiruv people for not putting their talents towards the frum community??? Give me a break!


    But then couldn’t one argue that someone who has a mortgage is also dealing with ribbis?

    YW Moderator-42

    Um… Yes a mortgage can be a problem of ribbis if you were borrowing from a Jewish bank without a heter iska…

    I just read the fine print in my book. First of all, it does mention “no purchase necessary” so it is a legal sweepstakes and is therefore tax deductible.

    Sorry squeak, but I am with Joseph on this ribbis issue – The “million dollar prize” clearly gives a choice between 2 prizes: $500,000 or $100,000 per year for 10 years. There is no “loan” here, just a choice of 2 separate prizes. This should be no different than offering a choice between a $500 gift certificate to Target and a $1000 gift certificate to Artscroll which I have seen some raffles offer.

    In terms of WIY’s issue with flashy raffles, it is called hishtadlus. If this is what it takes to get more people to give more money than kol hakavod to them for being mezakeh the rabbim in this great mitzvah of giving tzedaka to a great kiruv organization. Whether it is “worth it” is a business decision on their part which they are allowed to make as part of their hishtadlus. It is very unlikely that they are “losing” money on this. They most probably have donors backing it up who would not be giving the money otherwise.

    From my experience I can tell you that Oorah does great work and I highly recommend donating to them. If you don’t like the idea of donating toward big, flashy prizes than use the “lishma” option.


    Moderator, I know that Jews have historically been bankers, but how often do you borrow money from Jewish banks (at least in the states), also I am sure if you live in E”Y that it would be easier to get a heter to take out a mortgage. And what is a heter iska?


    Mod, I hear your point and I concede it is not a simple or straightforward issue here. However, since the rules do not describe any halachic workarounds, the contract is that if you win they are required to pay you 100x per year for 10 years. But you can exempt them from the full obligation by accepting half as an immediate payment, which is an issur ribbis drabbonon. Stated another way, if you want your money now you only get half. They can fix this by saying they will pay 1000x whether you ask for it upfront or over time.

    From the other perspective (since it is ambiguous) maybe the prize is 500x right now but if you let them pay over time you get 1000x. Then it is ribbis doraisa. The winner then might be able to prevent the ribbis by refusing the alternative offered and allowing them to pay 500x over 10 years or immediately. But what kind of business is that for a kiruv org to leave control of the ribbis issue up to whoever wins? Chances are the winner will have no idea what ribbis even means.


    And for those interested , yes I have discussed this with a mumche in hilchos ribbis.

    RegularJew, I dont mean to ignore you but I am not about to debate the role of kiruv orgs in our generation because it wont do anyone any good. I happen to be of the opinion that they are disproportionately funded relative to their value to yiddishkeit compared to other tzedaka causes. You are free to disagree.


    It is simply a choice of prizes the winner can choose from. There is no default prize and then an alternative.

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    Winner has the option of taking payment over 10 years or one lump sum totaling to 50% of the win amount. Million Dollar Raffle Drawing Date: May 11th 2013.

    Sounds like squeak’s metzius, not Joseph and mod 42’s. It’s not a choice of two separate prizes; the winner chooses how to collect the prize.

    I still think it’s probably muttar.



    It is a pretty big assumption that you are making, that only you spoke to a knowledgeable person. While you say you spoke to a mumcha, I think it is more than just likely that Oorah spoke to a rov and a dayan, not just a squeak defined mumche.


    Sounds like you are making the assumptions here. You think it is likely that Oorah k ew there is an issue? Thats one. That they asked a shaila about it? Thats two. That they did all this beforehand and incorporated it into the rules? Three.

    Why dont you take a look yourself and find out if what I say has any basis.

    YW Moderator-42

    DY’s lashon seems to be a new thing, the book that I am reading says, “can win 1000 times their donation up to one million dollars … Winner has the choice of taking 500 times his/her donation immediately or taking 1000 times his/her donation to be divided over 10 years”

    The first part might be somewhat problematic though it says “can” which implies it is only a possibility. The actual prize is described in the next line where it is a clear choice between 2 prizes. Either way, I’m sure they hocked this out with competent halachik authorities.

    Also, my book says the drawing is March 9th (a week after the auction which is listed as March 2 which is the Shabbos after purim). DY’s post says May 11 which is the Shabbos before Shavuous and is more consistent with their previous years. I guess either DY copied it wrong or they changed the date from the original official rules.

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    I copied and pasted from the website.

    Either way, I’m sure they hocked this out with competent halachik authorities.

    I completely agree with that. I’ve pointed out some of the options.

    Here’s a link, which will serve its purpose even if you delete it.



    Just for the record, taking the 500k implies an interest rate of about 7.2%. If your interest rate is higher, you’d want to take the 500k. If lower, you’d want to take the 1m.

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