What would you answer?

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  • #614372

    DaMoshe
    Participant

    A co-worker of mine lost his father a few days ago. When something like that happens, our department will usually buy flowers or something like that for the person. In this case, the family asked that in lieu of flowers, they donate money to a charity the deceased had supported.

    Here’s the problem: my co-worker is a devout Hindu, and the charity they’re collecting for is a religious organization supporting Hinduism. Hinduism, in case you’re not aware, is straight out avodah zarah.

    So I did not donate. It wasn’t a big deal – the card and envelope were on someone’s desk, so I just didn’t go put anything into it.

    Today, the administrative assistant for the department came to my desk to ask me if I wanted to donate, as it’s the last day to give, and my name wasn’t on the list. I told her no thank you, and she asked me why. I told her it’s complicated. She goes, “Ohhhh” and starts walking away. Well, the last thing I need in the office is for someone to think I have personal issues with someone who is, in fact, a very nice man who I get along just fine with. So I told her, “I want you to know it’s nothing personal with him! We get along very well!” She asked me again if I wanted to donate. So I told her that I can’t because it’s a religious organization, and due to my own religious beliefs, it’s very complex when it comes to donating to religious organizations.

    I’m just curious what people here think. Did I do something wrong and ch”v cause a chillul Hashem by explaining it? Should I have lied about why? I couldn’t say that money is tight, because I had just given her money for something else (a new microwave for the office pantry – I double-wrap my lunch and use it quite often.)

    Thoughts?

    #1045066

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    I am sure most here will congradulate you for what you did, however they do not understand that in an office everyone is equal and it was not a kiddush Hashem and you will be seen as “above others” I am no Rabbi and you should probably have asked a Shaila before saying no. (Make an Exuse you are busy now and will reply later)

    Office Politics is always trickey.

    #1045067

    #Tough stuff!

    #1045068

    Little Froggie
    Participant

    Nope. I hardly think one makes a Chillul HaShem be making a Kiddush HaShem.

    #1045069

    Joseph
    Participant

    You could do nothing different so why are you questioning yourself. Nothing else you could hav done would be better. You did just fine.

    #1045070

    voos epes
    Member

    U did the right thing

    #1045071

    ubiquitin
    Participant

    It isnt complicated at all, you don’e feel comfortable supporting a religous organization you are not apart of so you will donate in his memory to say american red cross or to the poor or something.

    (as an aside, saying “it’s nothing personal” makes it sound personal)

    #1045072

    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    Saying you’re tight would be a Chilul Hashem, showing that you are just cheap. I think you did fine. People understand that religious stuff gets complicated. The fact that you were apologetic will make up for the weirdness.

    #1045073

    Avram in MD
    Participant

    I don’t think you caused a chillul Hashem with your explanation.

    I’m confused about how the situation came about. If there was a card and envelope on someone’s desk, why couldn’t you just sign the card with your sympathies and put nothing into the envelope? If the envelope was stuffed with a mixture of cash and checks, how could the administrative assistant keep track of who donated or not?

    Personally, I feel uncomfortable with the idea of someone going around collecting donations at the office, especially if it’s a manager or someone close to a manager. I think that it was downright inappropriate for the administrative assistant to ask you why you refused to donate. The problem wasn’t with your response, but the fact that you were asked the question.

    #1045074

    eek
    Member

    Give her counterfeit money.

    #1045075

    tzviki16
    Member

    it might be a good idea to find out exactly what the money will be used for. if it will be to help the needy hindus or something like that, it would probably be ok to give money. the fact that it’s run by ovdei avoda zara doesn’t necessarily mean it’s assur to give to them.

    Also you might consider giving to a charity of your choice in his name and he should know about it. that would be a Kiddush Hashem.

    #1045076

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    You made a kiddush Hashem.

    #1045077

    👑RebYidd23
    Participant

    You could donate to a secular charity in his honor.

    #1045078

    Avram in MD
    Participant

    zahavasdad,

    I am sure most here will congradulate you for what you did, however they do not understand that in an office everyone is equal and it was not a kiddush Hashem and you will be seen as “above others”

    Wow, that was demeaning.

    I am no Rabbi and you should probably have asked a Shaila before saying no. (Make an Exuse you are busy now and will reply later)

    And what does the OP do if the rabbi says it is assur to donate?

    #1045079

    Sam2
    Participant

    I would say you absolutely did the right thing.

    Though Hinduism is very complex and it’s not so Pashut that it’s actually Avodah Zarah. But L’ma’aseh it’s very likely that it is.

    #1045080

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Its demeaning because you didnt like my answer. As someone who has worked in the non-jewish world all my life I can tell you , that you will come in contact with all sorts of people who do things you dont agree with have differnet beliefs and you will likely be in positions you will not like.

    For example

    A n-jewish -worker dies and the whole office goes to the Funeral

    A co-worker has a Toeivah Marriage and the entire office buys them a gift and you are expected to give.

    A co-worker has a mixed marriage and the entire office buys them a gift

    Business Relationships with members of the opposite gender (Issues of Yichud, Travel, Shaking hands)

    Business lunches and Dinners

    You have to figure out how to navigate these roadblocks without making yourself look selfish and have to be a team player. Being a Team player is very important in an office especially with people you are spending half your life with.

    I think a Rav might be able to figure out a way out like maybe for example the charity is to feed the poor rather than fund the local Hindu Temple.

    #1045081

    nishtdayngesheft
    Participant

    ZDAD,

    You seem pretty insistent that DaMoshe should have made a contribution to Avoda Zara. Perhaps you can tell us which Rav YOU have spen to regarding this and in fact all the other “heterim” you are espousing in your comments.

    I know that in my office there is a women who does not go to the office parties because of her religious beliefs and no one gives her grief or thinks any less of her because of that. And I am sure she did not ask a Rav.

    #1045082

    rc
    Participant

    I think i would have given a small gift on your own and told the boss you already gave something before you knew they were collecting, privately. maybe send a fruit platter to the home or something.

    #1045083

    mommamia22
    Participant

    I agree with rc and think you should still do it.

    #1045084

    At this point what is done is done. The Shulchan Aruch paskens that we give Goyim because of Darchey Shalom. You could still give a donation to another cause and give the receipt to this lady in memory of the deceased so as not to look petty, but if you do this you would have to give a greater amount than you would have contributed to the group gift but also a smaller amount as you are not getting a mitzvah of tzedaka and you don’t want to show you are one upping anyone.

    #1045085

    oomis
    Participant

    I would donate to ANOTHER (secular) cause, like the American Cancer Society, and send a nice sympathy note to the person whose father died. I do not think it is appropriate, mipnei darchei sholom or not, to donate money (to any organzation) that will potentially be used by ovdei A”Z. We cannot unknowingly contribute to someone’s A”Z, which is one of the 7 Mitzvos of Bnei Noach, so they as well as we, are chayav in it.

    If it were anything OTHER than A”Z, it would be a lesser issued, but A”Z is a special catergory, in that even THINKING about committing it is a terrible aveira. I think this is an area in which we need to be really careful.

    I would have said, “I am so sorry for (so and so’s) loss. I absolutely want to show respect for him by contributing to charity in memory of the departed. However, fopr personal reasons I cannot contribute to this particular organization, but would be very happy to contribute to another one in his name. Perhaps you know of another one that would be meaningful to So and So.”

    #1045086

    BarryLS1
    Participant

    I asked a Shaila on the very same issue where the money was going to a youth program in a church. I was told that since it wasn’t going directly for religious purposes and for darchei shalom, I should give.

    #1045087

    Avram in MD
    Participant

    zahavasdad,

    Its demeaning because you didnt like my answer.

    Ummm no. I thought your response to ask a shaila because the situation might not be as clear cut as the OP thought in the moment was a good one, and I actually agree with it. There may be some wiggle room in a case where gift giving is a part of the office culture, there may not be depending on where the money is going. We don’t know. What was demeaning about your response was your assumption that the OP and respondents “do not understand that … everyone is equal.”

    Like you, I have spent my entire adult life in majority non-Jewish office settings. Just because I may disagree with you does not mean that I lord myself over others, am ignorant of how to be a team player in an office, or anything else like that.

    The OP was confronted with an inappropriate question where he felt compelled to give an immediate response without being able to ask a shaila first. Your suggestion to put off the question and then ask a shaila was a good one, but I think such a response doesn’t eliminate the potential to irritate the administrative assistant, who just wants to ship off the card and donation and be done with it.

    I also think that the OP erring on the side of caution where there was a potential A”Z issue was also a good spot decision. All of the discussion here is done in hindsight.

    A n-jewish -worker dies and the whole office goes to the Funeral

    In this case, there is time to ask a shaila. The answer may be no!

    A co-worker has a Toeivah Marriage and the entire office buys them a gift and you are expected to give.

    A parallel question to the OP’s case, and this one might be less fraught with issues.

    A co-worker has a mixed marriage and the entire office buys them a gift

    Ditto…

    Business Relationships with members of the opposite gender (Issues of Yichud, Travel, Shaking hands)

    Business lunches and Dinners

    These are more general office issues, and shailos can be asked beforehand – these situations are less likely to be put someone “on the spot” like the OP was.

    You have to figure out how to navigate these roadblocks without making yourself look selfish and have to be a team player.

    And I think the OP did a good job of this! Why don’t you?

    Being a Team player is very important in an office

    And being a Jew is more important.

    Also, being a team player in the office is a lot more about how you conduct yourself on a daily basis at work than it is about cards, flowers, handshakes, holiday parties, and the like. Help others, get your project contributions done on time, show respect for others in meetings, be nice to your co-workers, and you’ll be a team player even if you don’t go out to dinner with the co-workers after hours or participate in the office “secret santa.”

    I think a Rav might be able to figure out a way out like maybe for example the charity is to feed the poor rather than fund the local Hindu Temple.

    Maybe, but boundaries do exist in Judaism, and there are cases where you might have to handle a “no” in an office situation gracefully.

    #1045088

    notasheep
    Member

    Hinduism is a pagan religion, therefore avoda zora. If the charity money goes towards their temple then I would have thought it is assur to donate, however I would perhaps send in my own form of condolence.

    #1045089

    from Long Island
    Participant

    I have been in the Goyish business world for many, many years. I have gone to goyish funerals and stood outside the door. (it showed my respect AND my religious beliefs)

    I have gone to Goyish weddings, gone in, (so long as it was not in a church) said Congratulations, left my gift on the gift table and left.

    There are ALWAYS two ways to handle these problems that pop up all the time.

    1. NEVER, no matter what the situation, go in on an office gift. ALWAYS send your own gift, donation, etc. This way you have set a precedent and no one will ever be offended.

    2. Sorry, I have a conflict is a much better answer than I can’t, I won’t, my religion won’t let me, etc. MAKE sure you DO have a conflict – even if it is to go out to dinner with your spouse so you are not lying.

    Office politics is a very tricky situation and you want to avoid being the office PROBLEM, otherwise, it will impact your work, your workers co-operation and promotions.

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