Jun 29, 2015

Asking for Tzedaka

I received an email with a link to a fundraising effort of a seminary girl.  She was finishing a year of seminary and wanted to remain for a second year, which is known as Shana Bet.

The link brought me to a personal fundraising website that people use to raise money for things that are important to them.  So the girl writes how she scraped the money together for the first year of seminary and how important she thinks a second year will be for her.

Let me say at the outset, she sounded sincere and serious about making the most of another year of seminary.  However, without even getting into the issue as to whether a second year of seminary is something anybody should be funding, what bothers me about the appeal for money is just that - it's a hand held out for tzedaka. 

How is it different than sitting on a street frequented by religious Jews with a cup and asking for tzedaka? Or going around in shul and collecting money?

I think that the fact that the Internet puts a distance between people; after all, you are not seeing them face to face, makes the collectors forget the implications of what they are doing.  The same could be said for an appeal written and mailed, but the Internet is even more conducive because there is a website set up just for this, and you can easily email the link to numerous people.  There is no need to stuff envelopes, address them, and put stamps on them.      

Some years ago, a person introduced an Israeli girl to a crowd at a shiur and explained that she was here to raise money for her wedding.  I was so taken aback by this.  Did nobody care to protect her dignity?

Likewise, years ago, a woman came from Israel collecting money for her family.  I guess it was supposed to impress us that she came, rather than her husband.  After all, he was learning.  Again, I was appalled.  In the stories that I've read about beggars collecting money, they were men.  Money was raised for hachnosas kalla and widows but, as far as I know, the kallos and widows were not traveling about and knocking on doors with their hand out. 

In desperate situations, may none of us know from it, women might have to collect for themselves, but otherwise?

As to how I would feel if a yeshiva bachur made an Internet appeal for money to enable him to remain in yeshiva or someone in kollel made an appeal asking for money, again, I would wonder whether they would also hold out a cup on a busy corner of a religious neighborhood or collect money in shul. 

So it's two issues: 1) males or females collecting tzedaka from the public  2) a woman collecting tzedaka for herself.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that as the number of tzedukah collectors rise, and the making of a tzedukah case of nearly everyone in frum society for one reason or another, there will be many who will probably be ignored. No one can give to every request, unless they are simply giving out small change.
    Someone wrote to a magazine criticizing the fact that people go begging to relieve debts, pay for weddings, etc and that they should be going to Mesila org instead to learn how to pay their way. A rabbi answered that those who beg save the rest of us from gehinom. I guess we have to pay our way out of there. Personally, I would rather give to a recognized organization that gives to the kollel or to the yeshiva but anyone can put out their internet cup and hope that someone fills it.