Refusing someone who's collecting tzedakah

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  • #601475
    mommamia22
    Participant

    What is the appropriate way to decline giving to someone requesting money?

    The other day a man approached us and my husband refused to give (I think he sensed that the need wasn’t genuine), but I felt that we needed to be respectful about the way we chose not to give. It seems wrong to say “sorry we don’t have” (if it’s untrue), so what’s a better way than just to keep on walking?

    #845124
    ☕️coffee addict
    Participant

    say “I’m sorry”

    #845125
    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    Seriously, ignoring the person may be the best way to go, if you will otherwise speak what the real reason is (you can lie for Shalom, and this may be such a case. Ask your LOR).

    Otherwise a simple “I’m sorry” will do.

    #845126
    A Heimishe Mom
    Participant

    If someone approaches you on the street and you feel the need to respond, a polite “I am sorry, not now” will do.

    When they come to the door I hide behind the inyan (halacha?) that a woman’s money belongs to her husband and I say that he isn’t home or unavailable and I can’t give. Its probably stretching things a bit, but they do leave.

    #845127
    mommamia22
    Participant

    An apology is good, but I wonder if it still doesn’t hurt their feelings that we’re choosing to not give. Is it better to give to someone you believe doesn’t need it?

    #845128
    chavalman
    Member

    Give him a quarter instead of nothing. It wont cost you more than 15 minutes at the meter.

    #845129
    ItcheSrulik
    Member

    I usually give something, if only a quarter. In general I assume if someone is asking, they need.

    #845130
    mytake
    Member

    I was raised to give when someone asks. I don’t feel comfortable taking the chance of not giving just because he MIGHT be a phony.

    #845131
    2qwerty
    Participant

    Is it better to give to someone you believe doesn’t need it?

    Yes the mitzvah is to give regardless whether the person needs it or not. And as far as i remember you can give the smallest coin to satisfy this mitzvah. However, i personally think its disrespectful to give too little.

    #845132
    oomis
    Participant

    If my husband is not home, I will not open my door. If the person is on the street, I will say, I am sorry, unless I have small enough change to give him something. It’s when they ask for a check that I get annoyed.

    #845133

    It’s very unfortunate, but probably for every legitimate request for tzedakah, there are several that are just doing “shtick”. One solution has been various Vaads maintaining a database of tzedakah collectors who they know to be legit. So, when someone rings the bell, I ask to see their hashkama from the Vaad. And also, I will not open the door to a strange man if no one else is home.

    Those of us who live in frum neighborhoods also know that there is a virtual parade of pushka shakers on Fridays. How many of them are probably not even Jewish?

    #845134
    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    I was raised to give when someone asks. I don’t feel comfortable taking the chance of not giving just because he MIGHT be a phony.

    You are either a good hearted person, a bleeding heart liberal, or a fool. Take your pick 🙂

    #845135
    real-brisker
    Member

    What does phony mean? Why would someone collect if they don’t need money?

    #845136
    ItcheSrulik
    Member

    rb: There are plenty of con-artists in the word. Why are you surprised that they use tzedaka as a ploy when it allows them to exploit our culture of rachmanus and chessed without even the effort of thinking up a scam?

    #845137

    Because, RB, there are evil people in the world who will take advantage of the fact that Jews are more generous then anyone when it comes to being charitable.

    It’s worth noting that the halachas of tzedakah don’t only pertain to giving the money. They also concern how the money will be used. Which is why, nationwide Vaads have a nationwide database to ascertain that the money is being put to proper usage. Giving money to someone who’s just shaking a pushka because they heard Jews give money on Friday afternoons, and then that person goes home laughing, is sadly, not fulfilling the mitzvah of tzedakah.

    #845138
    Rav Tuv
    Participant

    “What does phony mean? Why would someone collect if they don’t need money?”

    It’s easier than getting a legit job and it’s tax-free money.

    #845139
    mommamia22
    Participant

    So, here’s an additional question. If a woman is walking with her husband, and he refuses to give, and she personally would choose to give, is she allowed to in his presence? This is why I chose not to give. I felt it would be disrespectful either to my husband or to the man collecting, and I felt my obligation was to my spouse first.

    #845141
    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    What does phony mean? Why would someone collect if they don’t need money?

    ???? ??? ??? ????? (?????? ??) ????? ??????? ????? ??? ??? ??? ??? ??? ????? ???? ????? ???? ??? ????? ?? ???? [?????] ???? ?????? ?? ???? ??????? ????? ???? ????? ?????? ???? ??? ????? ??????? ??? ??? ????? ????? ???

    Bava Basra 9a. Ayin Shom.

    #845142
    Yatzmich
    Member

    What kind of excuse is it that maybe it’s a fraud? Out of let’s say 10 people collecting, how many do you think are fakes? 1 or 2? Stretch it a bit, maybe 3?

    In business, would you not take a 20 or 30 percent risk on your investment?

    Are you giving the guy $500.00 that you’re so worried about fraud?

    #845143
    ☕️coffee addict
    Participant

    Rb,

    Hey if I had no decency I would shnorr (its a lot easier than working)

    #845144
    oomis
    Participant

    RB are you serious?????? People come around ALL the time with sob stories (and I always fell for them, they knew a soft touch when they saw one). I used to give a lady who came around on Fridays until I found out she was an Israeli Arab. She always said “Kapara!!!? And she would wish me a good Shabbos. Go know.

    Plenty of people collect because they know people don’t like to say no. But the real way to tell if someone is phony is in how he reacts to whatever you give. If he is genuinely collecting tzedaka for someone, he will appreciate whatever you give him. When he starts making faces and saying it’s not enough, you can bet he probably has less than altruistic motives. What I don’t like is the guy who parks a fancy car around the corner (I saw, and the guy didn’t know), tells me how destitute he is, complains about the $5 I gave him, wanting me to write him a check, and then gets into his car without a thank you, and sends another guy from the same car to my house with another hard luck story. When it’s legit, it’s legit, but these bad apples spoil it for all the others.

    #845145
    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    The Gemara says that the fakes save us from the harsh Din of not giving. Because of the fakes, we can always say that we thought this particular collector was a fake.

    If they do us such a service, don’t they deserve at least a quarter?

    #845146
    miritchka
    Member

    I always feel bad when they come to my house. But i’m afraid to open the door when my husband isnt home. When he is, he answers. I actually am trying to get over the fear of opening for collectors so i did open the door the last time.

    In the street, usually i dont give. sometimes i do. unfortunately so many people collect in the streets and although i do wish i could help everyone, i cant. Financially i am not that well off and because of that combined with the frauds that i’ve found out about afterwards (see oomis1105 post above), i just cant afford to give. I respond to mailings but (pardon the pun) cant afford the handouts.

    #845147
    mommamia22
    Participant

    Miritchka

    What do you say when they approach you?

    Somehow, saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t feel sufficient.

    #845148
    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    The Gemara says that the fakes save us from the harsh Din of not giving. Because of the fakes, we can always say that we thought this particular collector was a fake.

    If they do us such a service, don’t they deserve at least a quarter?

    ROTFLOL!!!!!

    #845149

    I’ll often say, “I’m sorry, I can’t open the door right now”.

    #845150
    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    Mytake said something very true. Very often, our judgement is based on self-taught, untested, trait-testing techniques, which are more likely xenophobic and racial biases.

    #845151
    real-brisker
    Member

    I did not understand a phony in reference to a non-jew. I thought it meant someone which was not in need of tzedakah, and on that I was asking why would someone collect if they are not in need.

    #845152
    real-brisker
    Member

    mz, ca – I disagree, I dont think its easier to collect then to work.

    #845153
    ☕️coffee addict
    Participant

    Did you read my post correctly?

    If I HAD NO DECENCY

    #845154
    mommamia22
    Participant

    I think by phony, what’s meant, perhaps, is someone who’s made a career out of asking instead of working. There’s a particular individual who asks for money so he can buy cigarettes. I was told he has money. He just doesn’t want to spend it.

    #845155
    2scents
    Participant

    Miritchka,

    You should be afraid to open the door to a stranger when your husband is not around.

    It’s a legitimit fear.

    #845156
    ☕️coffee addict
    Participant

    Mommamia,

    Once I find out the person buys cigarettes I have a good excuse not to give him tzedaka “poor” or not

    #845157
    2qwerty
    Participant

    >Giving money to someone who’s just shaking a pushka because they >heard Jews give money on Friday afternoons, and then that person >goes home laughing, is sadly, not fulfilling the mitzvah of

    >tzedakah.

    I disagree because as far as you are concerned they are asking because they need it so you are obligated to give. Generally, I think the less we judge others the less Hashem will judge us.

    >Once I find out the person buys cigarettes I have a good excuse

    >not to give him tzedaka “poor” or not

    Is that your criteria or Hashem’s?

    #845158
    ☕️coffee addict
    Participant

    2qwerty

    Is that your criteria or Hashem’s?

    you don’t consider it lifnei eeveir?

    #845159
    real-brisker
    Member

    ca – YES, I read your post. And I repeat, I think its easier to work than to collect.

    #845160
    real-brisker
    Member

    mom – Where do you draw the line. why shouldn’t every person be considered phony? Tell them go work?!

    #845161

    One of the funniest incidents with some of the local Friday afternoon pushka shakers was a guy who, when asked why he needed tzedakah, said he needed to “buy bread for Passover”. BTW, a lot of these people aren’t even Jewish. There’s a Greek guy who collects in our neighborhood. He does have Parkinsons Disease, but apparently will not let anyone drive him home.

    #845162
    mytake
    Member

    To those who are worried about not fulfilling the mitzva properly-I don’t count the fifty cents and dollar bills that I hand out to collectors on the street as maaser.

    Considering that I can’t be sure if it’s for a real cause, and on the other hand, I don’t wanna take responsibility and judge whether or not they’re real or faking, I just usually give small change and don’t think about it. It’s not like I got much to lose.

    #845163
    miritchka
    Member

    mommamia22: When they come to the door and i’m afraid to open the door, i say ‘my husband isnt home right now’. In the street i’ll say ‘i’m sorry, have a good day/night!’. When they actually stop/block me on the street, i’ll listen to them and sometimes give cuz its a kiddush Hashem to others and if they really do need it, it may encourage others to give too.

    2scents: I know. I should be cautious. But i cant help feeling bad! Especially when i read the letters to the editor in some newspapers from tzedakka collectors about how they are treated..

    #845164
    2qwerty
    Participant

    ca,

    I dont think its lifnei eeveir at all. Would you hire someone who is a smoker? Would you pay rent to someone who is a smoker?

    When you give a person money its his choice what to do with it. You can daven so you money will lead people to do good things but you are not responsible if they choose otherwise.

    #845165
    BTGuy
    Participant

    Hi mommamia22.

    I heard a shiur which was much more motivating than I can remember, but basically if you give tzedaka even to someone who turns out to be a fraud, it is a mitzva and the heavens act accordingly.

    Some proofs were cited, and I apologize that I dont remember them.

    #845166
    miritchka
    Member

    2qwerty: I think this is not so clear cut as you are making it sound. There is a concept (halacha i think?) that if a rich person becomes poor and is collecting money, even though he’s poor but he’s used to walking on velvet, one should provide that for him. Providing someone with a means to kill himself is not a form of tzedakkah. Rather give him food or even better, a job.

    #845167
    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    but basically if you give tzedaka even to someone who turns out to be a fraud, it is a mitzva and the heavens act accordingly.

    BTGuy:

    Gemorah I quoted above says not.

    #845168

    This issue has always struck me as a Brisker kashea. Is the mitzvah of tzedakah a din in the cheftza or in the gavra? If the din is for latter, than one shoud give what one can and if the collector is a fraud, that’s his avlah. On the other hand, a din in the cheftza means that tzedaka money is mamon shel Heqdash and the donor acts as an apitrapos of Heqdash and must donate only to those peope or institutions that he (or she) is certain is worthy.

    In practical application (not usually considered in Brisk), I think it’s a ittle of both. One should almost always give something, at least a minimum amount, and certainly never send anyone away from your door empty handed, but one shoud reserve one’s significant donations to people and institutions he knows are worthy.

    #845169
    BTGuy
    Participant

    Hi gavra_at_work.

    Your response is putting the cart before the horse and does not apply to this conversation, as I see it. Nor is your quote a contradiction to what I said.

    Who would want to give to someone collecting ALREADY determined to be a fake?? The gemara you provide is based on that exact situation, and in that case, obviously, your response is correct

    The situation discussed here is if you SUSPECT someone is a fake. They are not proven to be a fake. How would you know if they are a fake?

    The gemara you provide does not say anything about giving or not giving to someone you suspect MAY BE a fraud.

    The point of the shiur I heard, to me, still remains valid.

    If you want to clarify what to do if you think someone collecting MIGHT BE a fraud, please do.

    #845170
    emunah613
    Member

    I believe that money is a tool, and one has to be careful who they give tools to. You would not hand a delicate instrument to an unskilled person. Likewise handing money to someone that you don’t know means that you are giving them the means to an end that you are unsure of. Even giving a small amount empowers and emboldens. If Hashem entrusted you with money, He obviously expects you to treat it very carefully and to investigate where your money is being used. With so many Jews unable to pay for basics these days, there are many legitimate ways to put your maaser money to use.

    One thing we do is pay tuition for a child to attend a BY school. Her mother pays a small amount and was told her child qualified for a scholarship. This mother is a divorced mother not receiving money from her ex. Every time my own children take a small job, they put their maaser into this tzedaka. All their small change and ours adds up every month! We all feel very happy to be giving to this cause. When others come asking for tzedaka, we honestly tell them that our money goes to one specific cause and because of that we are unable to help them at this time. Most tzedaka collectors respect that and no one has ever made me feel bad. I think that when others recognize that you are genuine, and that you would like to help, but that you are committed elsewhere, it gives koach.

    #845171
    uneeq
    Member

    Some thoughts. My father had a coworker that didn’t show up to work one day. Eventually, he found him collecting money in shuls. Asking him why he collects, he replied that it’s easier to make money collecting than from working. And that he was making the same amount in less hours. He also drives a Jaguar.

    Next. My father regularly throws out collectors from the shul. For what reason? For being non-jewish. How does he know? Well, they are dressed in a pretty religious manner so they should be able to read the simple words Shema Yisroel. Right? Wrong. It’s funny that Kol Haposhtin Yad on Purim also applies to goyim.

    Then you have the alcoholics and drug addicts. Sure, they can really use the money, but for what? It’s really easy to spot one of these. I don’t think beggars were created with bruises all over their faces. It’s from bar fights, stumbling in the streets on a high, and drug abuse.

    Then you have the scammers, usually manipulating the softness in a jews heart. I heard people plotting out their methods of attack, like vultures spotting their prey.

    One thing I still haven’t figured out is why every beggars hat looks like it survived some world war. Either they’re pretending their religiousness and can’t do it right or they are poorly trying to emulate real poor people.

    #845172
    emunah613
    Member

    Think about it another way. Say you gave a guy that looked and acted nebadik, and he goes out to buy a tool in which to hurt someone with your tzedaka money. You enabled a person to hurt by giving him money! Without it, he could not have done this horrible deed.

    Creativity in giving tzedaka, where the receiver retains their dignity is a higher level of tzedaka.

    You can give directly to a school or family through paying off a grocery bill for a poor family, tuition, paying a clothing store to enable a poor family to purchase clothing at a “discount”, etc…

    #845173
    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    BTGuy:

    I was replying to a specific point regarding giving to frauds, or someone who turns out to be a fraud (even if that is unknown at the time) that it does not count. Please do not infer anything else regarding possible frauds (except that they do exist).

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