Rant – Doing a chesed in return for tzeddokah

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    Here is a rant:

    I am constantly annoyed by people offering chesed (in itself very kind and generous), and then ruining it by asking for a donation to tzeddoka as recognition of their chessed.

    To give an example; someone in my neighbourhood made aliya. They sold their house for well over $1.5m. They gave away various things. A cousin of mine who has just moved house got an oven from them, which was very kind and generous of the mover. But they then ‘suggested’ that my cousin give $75 to tzeddoka.

    Why does this man think it is his business to generate money out of my cousin for tzeddoka? Isn’t it my cousin’s business to ensure that he is giving sufficiently to tzeddoka? Why does the mover’s chesed gives him leverage to bully someone else into spending money that he most likely does not have, having just moved house and being a father of young children?

    We see this the whole time. Any items given away “…in exchange for $XX to tzeddoka,” or various gemachim lending things “…in exchange for a donation to tzeddoka” etc etc. It’s one thing if you need to upgrade the gemach equipment, but if not – then just do the chesed, and let other people and HKBH worry about their own tzeddoka.

    In summary: Do your chesed 100%. Don’t ask for other people to make donations, you have no idea if they can or can’t afford it. HKBH is in charge of looking after poor people, and He will, without your arm twisting tactics.

    Rant over, opinions appreciated.

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    It sounds like the suggestion was made after the item was given. I have a problem if there was pressure put on the recipient, but I don’t think a suggestion is so terrible, as long as the donation doesn’t go through the previous owner of the oven (because if it does, since he’ll know if the tzeddakah was given, that’s a form of pressure.

    OTOH, in the case of gemachs, I have no problem, since the donation is requested in advance. They could rent or sell it privately if they want, so all the better if the money goes to tzeddakah).


    R Chaim Shmuelevitz has several Shmuessen on ‘Shlaymus hamaaseh’ – how ulterior motives can damage an otherwise commendable Mitzvah. That might apply here.


    DaasYochid – I think you miss the point.

    Any suggestion to give creates pressure, especially if you don’t have means to give. Why should a benefactor make the guy feel bad that he can’t afford a donation?

    And about gemachs – the whole point of the gemach is to save people the cost of renting or selling! So why then ask for a donation?

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    I didn’t say he has a right to make him feel bad.

    Gemachs are still usually cheaper; if not, shop around.


    This is actually a chessed.

    Some people don’t want to take things for free, they feel good paying $75. They feel like they are contributing even though they clearly know that a dining room table costs a lot more than that!!


    @rama- I entirely agree with your original post; sounds like Leyzer does as well. I had a chaver that expected that a chesed would be returned with a chesed. I explained to him that it’s not chesed then, it’s a mutually benefcial arrangement that two people have come to. Chesed does not come with expectations in return, no matter how altruistic the asker thinks the request it.

    hanz kegl

    when i owe someone a small amount of $ and I return it to them, they tell me put it in tzedaka. I always say no here’s the $ I owe you and you can put it in tzedaka.


    What it seems like is that the person was effectively selling the product at low cost and since he didn’t need the money, he asked that the payment be given to Tzeddakah instead.

    Seems like a win-win for everyone involved.


    The issue seems less about force or coercion than about condescension.

    The person giving away his possessions is behaving offensively as the self-appointed spiritual guide of the recipient. It’s as though his “charity” puts him on a higher spiritual plane than “his” beneficiary.

    He has essentially “bought” himself a pulpit with housewares and is now lecturing his hapless congregant.

    To be truly charitable, perhaps one should make such “donations” anonymously and not learn the identity of the recipients.

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    Why doesn’t someone have a right to do chessed to their tzeddaka of choice instead of to you?

    I once brought a used car to a frum mechanic for his opinion on whether I should buy it. He put it on a lift to check it, test drove it, and reported his opinion.

    When I asked how much I owe him, he asked me for an $18 check to his favorite tzeddaka. Does anyone have a problem with what he did?


    I think that your case is slightly different DY. If you all a professional to work for you, he is entitled to ask for pay. (Even so, is his chessed bigger or smaller with the donation to tzeddokah?)

    But if you are giving something away, obviously or possibly the recipient is not wealthy or he would buy it! So why are you extorting money? Or if you are setting up a Gemach, why can’t you just do the cheeses without asking for money? It’s not your business what someone give to tzeddokah!

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    If you have a stove you no longer use, you’re entitled to ask for compensation for it. If you have chairs and tables, or gowns, or tablecloths, you have a right to ask for compensation for their use.

    The fact that the money goes to tzeddakah instead of his pocket is not your concern.


    Chesed does not come with expectations in return

    When you do chesed you are actually owed the hakaras hatov of the recipient. This, in fact, is the only heter to give tzedaka openly, not secretly – because you are not obligated to be moichel the hakaras hatov.

    Above is per R’ Hutner.

    Similarly, R’ Chatzkel Levenstein, I believe, used to try to ask someone for whom he did a real chesed, for some small favor in return, thereby freeing him (emotionally, at least) from his feeling beholden to him – similar to what poster wrote above.

    I think the real source of this ‘minhag’ is when there’s a monetary dispute, and the ‘pshara’ is for the money in question to be given to tzedaka – thereby allowing them both to feel like they gained. Which is of course not quite the same as the cases under discussion.

    Seems like it mostly a question of context – i’d had times when I felt like the OP, and others like DY.

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    i’d had times when I felt like the OP, and others like DY,

    I in fact agreed with the OP in the story he or she mentioned, I just think he or she expanded it too much.


    Buy time. Eat for free.


    It is not extorting money for the person to “suggest” giving something to tzedaka. It kind of IS, though, when the giving of the chessed item becomes contingent on a specific dollar amount being donated. To some people $75 is a lotta gelt.

    I have given away many items over the years, including clothing, a breakfront, chairs, tables, bicycles, cribs, and other baby items. I would be thrilled to know that someone gave money to tzedaka in that zechus, but I would never have mentioned a word about doing so, to the person. It puts them in a very awkward position.

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