Wednesday, February 22, 2006
TZEDAKKAH- THE EQUAL OPPORTUNITY MITZVAH
TZEDAKKAH- THE EQUAL OPPORTUNITY MITZVAH
Ever read those sugar sweet tales in the Hamodia or in books? The ones where a grandfather is portrayed as wisdom incarnated, and the parents are both humble and kind souls whose kids are good but basically complete morons whose level of naiveté would render even Homer Simpson jealous.
Well I did and still do, and I noticed that a persistently recurring theme is a lesson in the art and importance of donating Tzedakkah.(charity)
The stories teach that donating with a smile and with patience is so much more of a Mitsvah.
That Tzedakkah given in a pleasant manner brings about salvation and wonderful Hasgacha Pratis instances.
The urgency with which this message is propagated in heimische papers and in Drashos reflects the hard times we’re living in, a decade in which so (too) many people are in dire need of financial assistance.
Those who pray in a Shul everyday morning, afternoon and evening know that people’s patience is often put to the test.
You’re about to put on Teffilin (phylacteries) and someone ask for Tzedakah, he thanks and goes, at the same time another person touches you on the shoulder from the other side, his cause is extremely important and would like just a second to explain why 5 dollars isn’t going to cut it.
From marrying off children to supporting the resulting offspring, sometimes you wonder if you’re really not much wealthier than you thought.
Some collectors come to our door with truly sad accounts that break our hearts and compels us to help them as much a possible, others are there to make sure their children’s simchos aren’t marred by immediate financial worries, and of course the representatives of various Yeshivahs and Kollels know to find their way to our homes an offices.
The sums they need or have a responsibility to accumulate are quite often staggering.
Yet they don’t let the odds deter them from traveling far and wide and do their utmost best.
Giving to these men, women and children forces us to extend our hand and open our hearts. Looking at it with this outlook it’s actually they who make us the favor; we become better spouses, better friends, simply better people, by giving to strangers.
Shnorrers as they are scornfully called sometimes can be found everywhere, from the Shul to the park, in the streets and in stores.
They can also be found at weddings and various Simchas.
I wonder if there are places where it would be inappropriate for collectors to show up.
It’s known that women who are alone at home prefer not to open the door to strange men, and in my opinion it’s a very safe and intelligent way to act.
Even assuming that most men are honest collectors and far from dangerous, children home alone should not open the door to strangers.
I remember being all alone when a guy kept ringing the bell, deducing someone was home from the noise or light. I didn’t want to open yet he didn’t stop ringing and I got scared. I called my neighbor from upstairs to come down, fortunately he came and the guy left.
At Simchahs is it proper for them to show up? (Uninvited might I add) . On the other hand they have a chance of encountering people from other cities and countries which they might not meet somewhere else.
In Shul if a big number of charity seekers are present does it keep the congregation from praying with sufficient Kavanah(concentration) ?
Do you think there are times and places when asking for Tzedakkah would be inappropriate? Where and When?
One cannot control how many people go door to door collecting, particularly around the times of chagim and it is up to the discretion of the household whether to answer the door or give, depending on their own personal situation. (Personally, I do not feel comfortable when a Charedi collector knocks on the door and does not speak much english and looks away because am female. I usually call a male that is the house to speak to them.)
purim is the one time though, that we do not refuse tzedaka to anyone that comes to door.
If one wants to collect tzedaka at a simcha they are not invited to, i think that if they speak to the ba'al simcha and are very discreet they have more of a chance of finding what they need as opposed to simply trying to collect without permission to be there. But it's up to each collector as to how they conduct themselves and it is up to each individual to give as they choose, within their means.
Almost frye – Thanks for stopping by.
It’s a good idea. But would it really work? People coming in and out of Shul, especially in the morning are in such a hurry that I’m afraid many people would not take the time to stop.
Sarah- Thanks for your comment to my post.. Your example of ringing the door but not looking at women is a good one, there someone wants money from you but he won’t give you the courtesy of looking at you, I don’t know exactly what to think of this.
As for purim you’re right but even then there should be limits, I for one refuse to give drunkards.
ps thanks for your comments on my hot topic-u r still young and learning about married life, that is fine
I think it is very inappropiate for people to bother others in restaurants by shoving certificates in your face when you are sitting down to eat with the family or friends.
I believe that when a person gives tzedakah to street collectors or home collectors it is wrong to start petitioning for more money or other things. You obviously give as much as you can! Just yesterday a woman asked me for money on the street and I gave with a smile as I always do... but to then demand I take her shopping for groceries... that is a whole new low! OR about the lady who demanded I go and get her a slice of pizza? I feel bad on one hand... but on the other....!
Charity: probably the best way to say good-bye to your money and guaranteed that you won't be missing it (when doing it right, of course.)
What drives me nuts however is the kinda guy who is collecting 'cuz he is stranded and needs money for the train, glad to help him out of course, but its not cool when these people come day after day with the same need, how many times can you get stranded for g-ds sake!
Truth is (and as I remember learning,) if someone ask's give, what he does with it is another story, but yet I really dont feel that great giving to CERTAIN people knowing it goes to drugs/alcohol and other junk.
And yeh when I sit down to do my little bit of studying with my chavrusah and actualy start learning, and someone comes over for charity I definitely will not be in the most giving mood...
Misshona – It’s so unfortunate but some people do take advantage, knowing that most donators won’t check out backgrounds and stuff..
How many stories of fake Chassidim haven’t I heard? They come to the door, say a few words in Yiddish, walk away with the cash and tear off the fake beard and side curls!
If I’m not mistaken in Switzerland people are advised to donate only to people who have a certificate validated by the head of the community. Now that’s a good system
Frumgirl- I got to admit that I’ve never had that in a restaurant but I know I’d be very annoyed if that would happen!
You sure attract the chutspaddike ones. Grocery shopping? What’s next pick up her laundry?
I was once by Eichlers when a lady inside the store asked me for change, I said I didn’t have any, when I came out with a purchase, she was waiting for me by the entrance “now you have change??.
And I have a sneaking suspicion she wasn’t even Jewish.
Chassidische shagitz- During learning it’s very frustrating, you’re about to grasp that Tosafos when….
It’s always a worry when giving in the street, how do you know it’s not for drugs and excessive alcohol?
What do you do when a smoking schnorrer approaches you?
I have a bunch of full pushkas in my house. what do I do with those?
There was Kehilla and a Gabbai Tzedaka. Everyone gave to him..and he with a commitee decided who was worthy to get and how much.
The problem..is shnorring becomes an addiction many people who at first really need the money..overcome their shame..and then get hooked on this easy way of making money instead of trying to get jobs.
TO me, Tzedakkah, is not just giving of our money, but also giving of our time to others. As to whether it should be off limit raises an interesting question.
The point of doing tzedakkah is that it helps us ultimately, not the person to who we give. By doing good deeds, whatever they are, we repent, and it makes the severity of the decree (at least this is the message on Rosh Hashana) less severe.)
Rbr- Indeed there’s plenty of worthy Jewish causes to donate too.
In the morning it’s understandable you don’t want to stop, I remember what difference catching a train 5 minutes earlier could make. Besides in crowded areas sometimes it’s not such a good idea to open a wallet or purse.
David –I’ve always reasoned that Shnorrers deserve Tzedakkah for the sole reason that they must have no other options, apparently I wasn’t completely right.
It reminds me of this guy who was obviously a smart fellow coming to our door every Sunday, we remarked that the guy probably calculated he mad more money and faster than to get a job this way.
A system would be ideal, in Switzerland there is one, I think it’ works very well.
Barbara- Actually giving of your time is one f the greatest forms of Tzedakkah, too few people actually do that.
It’s beautiful to give Tzedakkah and feeling the way you do about it and any Mitzvah (good deed) is there as an heavenly advocate for us on the day of judgment.
When DM gets outside of himself, hopefully, he will find the meaning of joy.
I have posted again, but am limiting myself because of time constraints.
I do think that if there is a fund set up by the shul or community in an accesible way (not involving a ton of paperwork), the person should be politely directed to the right place to ask. For example, one shul we used to attend would regularly collect tzedakah, and people who came in for collecting during minyan would be nicely informed to go straight to the rabbi - and that they would get more money that way.
Thanks for stopping by
thanks for stopping by
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