Feb 3, 2008

Local RBS Tzedaka: defending the honor of Lemaan Achai

We have two fine tzedaka organizations in RBS. Kupa Tzedaka RBS and Lemaan Achai. Both do good work, each servicing a different part of the general community, with some overlap.

There has been some tension between the organizations in the past, and of not specifically between the organizations, then between their supporters. Whenever the topic of local tzedaka is broached, tones get raised, mud gets slung, people give over their impressions of the other organization and why they do not support them, etc. Other times, when the topic is not even broached, people make broad assumptions about what the "other" organization is doing and is truly involved in.

The result can be disastrous, because if you choose to not give tzedaka to one or the other organization because of a policy of theirs you do not like, that is your business. When you take unclear information, often subjective based on something you experienced (that may very well have been an exception to the general way or working), and publicize it often in an unclear way, leaving a very bad impression of the organization, it is no longer you not giving them your tzedaka (which is your right to decide) - it then has become other people not giving because of you, and even worse it causes people who are in need to refrain from approaching the organization because they think their is something not kosher about it. So it hurts the needy twice - once by people not donating because of your personal experience, and twice because the needy do not get the help they need.

In an attempt to get clarity among the different organizations and work out some of the issues, I have planned a series of posts on the topic. I am beginning with the following - this was written up by a person who was present last week when Rav Chaim Soloveitchik spoke about the tension and attitude that people have against Lemaan Achai. This post does not explain how Lemaan Achai works, but is a call for supporting Lemaan Achai and a defense of Lemaan Achai against calls for rejecting Lemaan Achai because of their "unkosher" practices and methods.

Future posts will include; a post explaining Kupa's responses to some of the allegations recently made against them, a post explaining how Lemaan Achai works, a post explaining how Kupa Tzedaka works, and maybe more explaining various other aspects of local RBS tzedaka (if I can think of more topics, and find people who are willing to write on them and answer them).

The following was written up from a drasha given by Rav Chaim Soloveitchik in shul last Shabbat, Parshas Yisro. The write-up was not written by Rav Soloveitchik, but by a member of his shul whow as present at the drasha. He wrote it for me from memory, and Rav Soloveitchik read it and approved it...

Chesed Organization Under Attack

On Shabbat Parashat Yitro the Mara D’Atra of Beit Knesset Ohr Shalom -Mosdot HaRav Aharon Soloveichik, and founder & possek of Lema'an Achai, HaRav Chayim HaLevi Soloveichik delivered a ground-breaking drasha.

HaRav called upon Bnei Torah and Baalei Batim to stand up and defend the esteemed prize-winning chesed organization, Lema'an Achai, which has been under attack by elements within the Ramat Beth Shemesh community. According to veteran followers, HaRav Soloveichik, Shlita has never delivered a drasha so strongly-worded and fiery from the time he assumed leadership here. HaRav Soloveichik, Shlita is the scion of the illustrious Soloveichik dynasty and son of the Gaon, HaRav Aharon HaLevi Soloveichik, ztzk”l. This week, Shabbat Parashat Mishpatim the Rav continued to underscore the important, unparalleled activities of Lema'an Achai, stating “There is no community chessed organization in the world which is as advanced and as effective as Lema'an Achai – their Smart Chesed saves hundreds of families from poverty, by getting these families back on their feet. This is the very highest level of tzedaka!”

HaRav Soloveichik began his drasha by citing perek 19, pasuk 2 from Parashat Yitro which describes Bnai Yisrael’s initial approach towards Har Sinai. At first the word “vayachanu” appears in the plural, the Rav proffered, in order to emphasize that before we could appear united as a nation at Har Sinai first we all had to be assured that all of the Jewish nation’s different approaches and hashkafot were intact and appreciated by all. We could only advance to the stage of “vayichan” under which we were stationed at Har Sinai under one united front once we had already guaranteed that the various sub-identities which exist among the Jewish people were respected by all.

The Rav went on to describe how there are those in our community who are only willing to fulfill “vayichan” but not “vayachanu”. Apparently some would prefer there be a monochromatic community composed of one hashkafa and oppose the very existence of other haskafot. These segments, who apparently never internalized the concept of “shivim panim latorah” and the true meaning of Ahavat Yisrael are determined to maliciously defame Lema'an Achai.

The objectionable approach of those who can not tolerate that such a wonderful chessed organization exists in Ramat Beit Shemesh, has driven them to invent folktales and lies, one of the particularly malicious ones being that Lema'an Achai “does not follow daas Torah”. Another absurd rumor being circulated is that Lema'an Achai is associated with groups responsible for the abduction of children from good, frum homes.(You need a talented conspiracy theorist to make that one up) Under ordinary circumstances such rumors would provoke a good laugh, but the sad reality is that there are actually those who come to believe such wild rumors. The effect is that some people do not give tzedaka to Lema'an Achai, and even some individuals who are in desperate need of Lema'an Achai's services do not approach the organization for help, because they take the 'motzei shem rah' at face value.

Lema'an Achai has an open-door policy, welcoming everyone who is in need, and everyone who wants to assist. Furthermore, Lema'an Achai has open, routine and positive cooperative relationships with over thirty other charitable organizations, both throughout Israel and abroad – and is always open to expanding cooperation with other organizations.

HaRav Soloveichik told his followers that if anyone has the gall to ask “what right does your Rav have to bring up such an issue?”, then he who asks should be reminded that the Rav is the talmid muvhak of HaGaon HaGadol HaRav Aharon Soloveichik, who regularly held discussions with such great Rabbanim as HaRav Yaakov Kaminetzky, HaRav Moshe Feinstein, HaRav Yitzchak Hutner, and who from a very young age had tremendous exposure to such gedolim as HaRav Elya Pruzhaner. The Rav has received a mesorah as to when one is obligated to speak out - the vicious attacks on Lema'an Achai certainly raise that obligation.

The Rav has urged all Torah Jews to stand up and defend Lema'an Achai from those who besmirch it, from those who spread sinat chinam.

The illustrious ancestor of HaRav Soloveichik, the Netziv in his introduction to his commentary on the chumash writes that the sinat chinam which led the Temple to be destroyed was the in-fighting among observant Jews of different hashkafot. The Rav urged us to remove this plague from our community. The outrage felt by followers of the Rav stems from the affront to Lema'an Achai and from the fact that the Rav was placed in a position whereby he felt he must defend his position as the Posek of the organization. Followers of the Rav have already begun taking action to assure that his message is heard loudly and clearly by all.

"The real answer to the those who might seek to damage the avodas kodesh of Lema'an Achai," the Rav explained, "is for everyone to express their support – by donating their tzedaka, by giving of their time to volunteer and by telling their friends, relatives and colleagues about the wonderful work of the world's best community chesed organization – right here in Ramat Beit Shemesh."

55 comments:

  1. TzedekTzedekTirdofFebruary 03, 2008 5:51 PM

    It's About Time!

    Kol HaKavod to Rav Solevechik for voicing the amazing merits of Lema'an Achai.
    I have heard too many "pot shots" taken at this noble tzedaka and the people who run it.
    They are there to help any Jew in need on the highest level. All of this is in addition to what they do for the community at large.
    Accusations such as "Dati-Leumi", not 100% Tzedaka and less than perfect Da'as Torah serve no purpose other than to malign them and keep others from donating. Not only are they false, they are also destructive.
    Those doing this may think that they are doing it in the name of helping another tzedaka and are thus "lshaim shamayim". In reality it is only a shame on shamayim. A shame that people who profess to be Yirei Shomayim will stoop to any means to get others to support what they think is correct. I hope that these individuals will do a real teshuva and make amends both verbally and financially for the damage that they have caused.

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  2. Unfortunately there are too many times to mention that Lemaan Achai has tried to work in cooperation nwith the Kupah and have been turned down to the detriment of the community.

    There are too many times that the Kupah has aimed malicious ads against Lemaan Achai but not calling it by name.

    It is time all the good guys stand up and be counted. There is room for more than one organization in the Ramah but they should work together and not against eachother for the good of all.

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  3. I for one would like an explanation about 100% tzedaka. I have been told that this is why I should support one organization over Lema'an Achai.
    First of all why isn't Lema'an Achai considered 100% tzedaka? Because they have an office? Because they have a staff of professionals who are available all the time? Because they have a director who oversees their many programs? I don't consider this "not tzedaka".

    On the other hand making a fancy melave malka(with an elaborate invitation and costly poster), overprinting of posters and subsidies of food sales for non needy families can no way be considered tzedaka.

    The "sponsorship" of these projects are a but a ruse. One who pays for the printing of a pamphlet or leather bound momento will not be giving for other needs of the poor.The businesses that sponsor frivolous expenses and support an organization that encourages "motzei shame rah" about Lema'an Achai should be questioned about their practices as well.

    B''H we live in a free society and have the choice of whom we should support.

    I'll support 100% Emes before the claim of 100% Tzedaka.

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  4. Kol HaKavod to HaRav Soloveichik for speaking out! By speaking out he has established himself as the leader of all normal frum Jews in Ramat Beth Shemesh.

    These Kuppah Shel Tzeddakah operatives who spread horrible rumors live up to their slogan of 100% sheker! The only solution is for all normal frum Jews to rise up, support Rav Soloveichik, support LeMaan Achai, and condemn the radical kannaim such as the Perlstein menace whose idea of Torah is to be as fanatical and hateful as possible!

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  5. Moshe The Truth SeekerFebruary 03, 2008 10:20 PM

    The real "Mara D'Asra" of Ramat Beit Shemesh has finally taken his rightful place!

    HaRav Soloveichik is the Torah leader of this holy community-he has earned this title as a result of his devotion to emmmes, his courage, and willingness to speak out about those issues which many other rabbis are too cowardly to address!

    Yes, I repeat-R' Perlstein is a fitting leader for all of the fanatics in Ramat Beit Shemesh Beit-Rav Soloveichik is leader of Aleph!

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  6. How much hate can Kuppah Shel Tzeddakah spread? How could they be so low and despicable as to spread rumors that LeMaan Achai kidnaps babies from fum parents? This type of hatred led to the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash.

    We need more ahavat yisrael-the type of love of our fellow Jews exemplified by Rav Soloveichik and LeMaan Achai.

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  7. Kuppah Shel Tzeddakah should be brought to a din Torah for their outrageously spreading vicious rumors that LeMaan Achai is engaged in the kidnapping of babies from haredi families. These guys sound nuttier than those crazies who met with Ahmadinejad in Iran!

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  8. What a tragic and pathetic situation-when an upstanding, frum organizations such as LeMaan Achai helps everyone, including the most radical haredim. And then these same fanatical haredim show how grateful they are by slapping LeMaan Achai in the face and accusing them of the worst type of felonies!

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  9. gentlemen, let us not stoop to lashon ha'ra. the point of this series is going to be to clear up misconceptions about both organizations. of course, you have the option of choosing which organization, or both or neither, you personally will or will not support.
    Any criticism of either organization should be to the point and be done in a respectful manner.

    Any questions you have, about either organization, you can feel free to put in the comments and I will try to get someone, from the specific organization, to answer.

    If you make this into a lynching, people and organizations will get hurt (which is what caused all this in the first place - let us not stoop to the same tactics used against Lmaan Achai, whether they were done privately or endorsed by other organizations). That is not the goal. The goal is to achieve clarity and harmony about the organizations.

    Rav Soloveitchik stood up for Lmaan Achai and that is worthy of respect and it is about time. But Rav Soloveitchik did so respectfully as well. Let us not turn into a lynch mob basing things on rumors and personal attacks.

    Question. Criticize. Clarify. but do not attack.

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  10. HaRav Aharon Soloveichik, ztzk"l taught that the ends do not necessarily justify the means. Kuppah Shel Tzedakkah activists may think that acting like scoundrels and defaming LeMaan Achai is legitimate-but it is not!

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  11. While I don't support the tactics of defamation used by those against Lema'an Achai I do take issue with this idea of baby snatching.
    Perhaps they wrongly assumed that since Lema'an Achai has Social Workers they would take kids away.

    The truth is that Lema'an Achai's social workers are bnay Torah and not only wouldn't but couldn't take away another's child.

    I'm certain that this rumor was just blown out of proportion.

    This is the danger of spreading falsehoods of even a small degree. People run with them and distort them out of context.

    However I have heard the "no da'as Torah" claim as well as the 100% Tzedaka. This claim was made by my local Kupa collector the first time he came to collect. Although I didn't really believe it I did begin to give a monthly donation to Kupa . Now that I see how these rumors have hurt Lema'an Achai I will reassess my contributions. Perhaps my small donation can somehow help them and the families they help.

    Rabbosai..let's work on respecting each other both in the community and on this most valuable post!

    Thank you Rafi for maintaining decorum!

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  12. yeshivishwithatwistFebruary 03, 2008 11:38 PM

    I think another effective way to show how we feel is to speak to the businesses that support Kupa. Let's tell them that they should be careful to support Lema'an Achai equally or we will support the businesses that do. For instance the sponsors of this Melave Malka include:
    Gold's Insurance
    Jo's Club
    Shefa Shuk
    Pagi
    Bank HaPoalim
    Kangaroo
    Naaley tehilla
    Regal Jewelry
    Lebo's

    If they support both organizations equally..great. If not...

    Let's Make Sure that they know how we feel!

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  13. Why is it that when something happens or rumors are spread that it's somehow kupa's secret agents (KSA for short)who are responsible. But if commenters here say things that are just as untrue it has no connection to L'maan Achai( which it doesn't).

    Posters are supposedly torn down KSA is at it. Riots yup them too. Rumors- who else can it be. And they lie about who they help,and waste money,etc.

    I've seen rumors just as untrue,or straight out lies about the Kupa started here.(or mentioned where I see it)

    Instead of assuming, Be dan lekaf zechus or ask someone who works for the kupa(not the collecters,they can be just as ignorant).

    I did ask someone,and they're all,ALL untrue.


    Finally, If someone praises an organization for something(like being well run or daas torah etc)
    that doesn't mean they're the only org that this can be said about or that it's true about.(or isn't Rav Chaim daas torah too.)(or isn't the kupa well run)

    Sick of both sides' rumor-mongerers.

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  14. Chairman, Lema'an AchaiFebruary 04, 2008 12:30 AM

    Friends,

    First of all, thank you to Rafi for having the courage to open up this important topic on this forum. For many others, for many years, it has been considered 'too hot to handle'.

    However, I would ask that posters avoid repeating the very mistake, chas vechalila, which Rav Soloveichik spoke so passionately about.

    Let's talk-up what we like about the organizations, without pointing fingers at their faults, whether perceived or otherwise.

    I would also point out that Rav Soloveichik himself was answering the damaging rumours, which certainly exist (vadai), but did not point any accusing finger at anyone specific or at any organization - which would be total speculation (safek).

    Respectfully yours,
    David Morris

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  15. Anon-

    I am sick of this back and forth as well. Reading it tonight, however, has made do some soul searching.

    You see I daven in a shul that doesn't have Lema'an Achai posters up on the walls. The majority of our members are "kupa" oriented. Our Rav has told me privately that perhaps Kupa is better because of 100% Tzedaka. Although I don't collect for the Kupa I have helped out at other functions like the Food Sale and at Purim.

    Anon-I was also at last year's wonderful melave malka. The Kupa spirit was great. Hundreds of people gathered to hear all of the wonderful things that KST has accomplished.

    I also heard comparisons. "What makes Kupa Different"? Different from what? Rav Eidensohn, the dedicated head of Kupa, mentioned differences between Kupa and "other organizations". He mentioned an office.
    He also mentioned 100% tzedaka. And yes anon...he mentioned Da'as Torah.
    These things make Kupa different from other organizations. To me there is no question that he meant Lema'an Achai. But it didn't really bother me. I'm a Kupa supporter.


    Now after hearing the effects of these comments I am starting to think differently.

    Rav Eidensohn is not a "KSA" as you say. He is the head of the Kupa. He is a mechanech in our community.

    His comments may have been what led to this spread of alleged mistruths about Lema'an Achai. If the director can say things that can be misinterpreted what of the regular guys on the street?

    Perhaps we have to get out of the denial mode and into the responsibility mode.

    I personally regret any wrong ideas I had about (or might have said) Lema'an Achai.

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  16. You are all missing the point. The ultra-Haredi group will NEVER give legitimacy to any organisation, personality, view or activity that does not emanate from them. This time it is a Kupat Tzedakah, next time it will be something else. They wish to destroy you. Trying to appease them or earnestly demonstrate that their accusations are not true is feeding the crocodiles (= impossible to satisfy). If you disprove those rumours, others will be made up in their place.

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  17. Incredible and looking forward to being able to link to this. I wish I knew more about Israeli goings on, but to me this points to desperation on the part of tzedakah organizations and things can only get worse without making major changes in the sociology of chareidi society.

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  18. Isittoolate-
    Good for you. I suggest in general that if you aren't sure what someone meant, ask them. Maybe Rav Eidenson can explain what he meant.



    Realist-

    NOOOO!-
    You are missing the point. Not everything that happens in the world is tied to the kupa.

    "THEY", "THEM" it's this sinah which bothers me from both sides. You're projecting whole groups of actions from different people on a tzedaka org, or even a whole population.

    "They're out to destroy us!" are you out of your mind!

    Because some people spread false
    rumors,therefore it's all chareidim,therefore it's the kupa,therefore they're going to do other stuff to us,and before you know it we'll be forced out.

    Is this logical?


    There are other groups you know,and not every person can be fit into a labeled box.

    Still Sick
    (hoping that guy was just a troll)

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  19. It is less than candid advertizing for Kupah Shel Tzeddakah to claim that they are "100% tzeddakah" Whoever gives tzeddakah in order to cover the kuppah's administrative expenses is doing exactly that-giving tzeddakah.

    From what I have seen regarding LeMaan Achai and the tzaddik yesod olam David Morris and the esteemed HaRav Soloveichik-they are "100% Emess"!

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  20. I have a great idea that could solve the tensions regarding Kuppah Shel Tzeddakah! Why doesn't Rav Eidensohn, the head of the Kuppah simply sign a brief letter in which he clarifies that Kuppah Shel Tzeddakah condemns in no uncertain terms vicious rumors that have been disseminated that LeMaan Achai doesn't follow halacha, kidnaps haredi children, and otherwise acts inappropriately.

    Then, we would know for sure that Kuppah Shel Tzeddakah really has nothing to do with this evil.

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  21. Perhaps the problem in Kuppah Shel Tzeddakah is politics. Different yypes of rabbis are affiliated with the organization-some of them moderate. However, R' Perlstein who heads the fringe in Ramat Beit Shemesh is also affiliated-if the Kuppah does not throw dirt at LeMaan Achai then R' Perlstein and his likes will be upset with the Kuppah and create problems. Thus, one can understand why R' Eidensohn would give a speech at the Kuppah dinner implying that LeMaan Achai is trayf.

    I would like to remind the community that when RBS was in its initial stages there was a wondeful womens' organizatrion which united haredi and dati leumi women for shiurim on Shabbes. Until R' Perlstein got wind of it and put this to an end.

    Perhaps fanatics such as R' Perlstein need to be pushed out of positions of influence.

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  22. Zalman,

    And what would Rav Eidensohn say baout his own questionable remarks at last year's Melave Malka?

    Is he willing to address the possible damages that have happened because of being "less than 100% responsible"?

    Such a statement would be too little much too late.

    Perhaps those who heard and accepted these mis truths should consider what they can do to make things right with their donations of time and money.

    Lema'an Achai could use as much support as possible at the moment while it would seem to me that Kupa is doing rather well.

    To be able to invite the entire community to a Melave Malka at Kinor Dovid FOR FREE (and with FREE bus service) raises the question of just how much they have and how their money is spent.

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  23. Shalom is more important than Emet. It is clear that the other side can come back at you just as hard as you can. If you think you are right so do they. Like water reflects a face from a face so a heart reflects a heart (mishle). You can think they are wrong.
    But like Rav Soloveitchik did, deal with the specific issues only and move on. For if we cannot create peace let us at least not create strife

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  24. Off topic:

    I think that the proper "suffix" for Rav Aharon Soleveichik is ztz"l, not ztzk"l. The extra "k" is for "kadosh", which refers to someone who was martyred.

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  25. Thank you Rafi for your initiative and the anonymous author who transcribed the drasha.

    The yechus information about Rav Solevechik was very interesting, but my high regard for him precedes that knowledge as anyone who meets him can see that he is "simply" a talmid chacham with tremendous warmth and respect for all.

    In short he's a mensch. And I think that parts of our community may be long on lernin' and paskening but short on menshkeit.

    I look forward to hearing from the kupah.

    In another development, a recent JPost article on the planner city center no longer refers to RP as the "Chief Rabbi of Bet Shemesh" .

    See http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1201867281701&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

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  26. I was away from my computer for a long time and there are a lot fo comments and I do not have the time right now to go through them all, but the last comment by anonymous - do not read too much into the jpost article. I am sure it is either a typo or a misunderstanding. the jpost has no idea who he is. Someone told them mora d'asra and they wrote chief rabbi of Bet Shemesh. Ignore it.

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  27. Kol HaKavod to Rafi for opening up thos issue to comments-airing this out will help the cause of truth-and reduce the possibility that the likes of R' Perlstein will rule here

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  28. Long Live HaRav Soloveichik!Long Live David Morris! Long Live LeMaan Achai!

    May they be protected from all lashon hara!

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  29. The use of lies has been the
    the source of antisemetism throughout our history. It
    allowed the holocaust to be
    perpetrated and allows those
    who want to destroy Klal Israel
    to continue their goals. We
    as the Chosen are taught not
    to use loshan hara. When those
    who administer a charity to
    help the needy try to eliminate
    competition by lies and misleading
    statements instead of working
    together to help those in need,
    we have reached a new low.

    David Morris is a very unique
    person whose Ahavas Yisroel and a desire to help those in
    need is something that we should
    all emulate. His heart
    and hand went out to take those
    in need out of the cycle of poverty, rather than just hand out checks and food as many other organizations do. He did not look at a persons dress code he only looked at their needs. Outsiders, who have looked at Lemaan Achai's method of fighting poverty,marvel at their accomplishments.

    There is no such thing as 100%
    Tzadaka for an charity unless
    it just takes in money and writes
    checks or distributes food via
    volunteers. Then there is usually
    a few percent needed to send out
    receipts and pay for minor things
    like a phone. In the real world
    if you keep your overhead under
    30% you are considered a success.
    According to a recent audit by the
    goverment Lemaan Achai's was I
    heard was about 12%. Their books
    are open to anyone who wants to look at them, can the competition
    say the same.

    Posters, fliers, dinners, salaries
    being paid by donors are in reality
    a way of hiding what you are spending to run an organization.

    Saying that Lemaan Achai does
    not have Da'as Torah when Rabbis
    like Rav Solevechik, Rav Shapiro,
    Rav Meyers and Rav Leventhal are
    involved in the policies of the
    organization is libelous.

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  30. Kol HaKavod to David Morris for his work and for his posting. David's work has been an inspiration for years, and his mentchlichkeit in his post continues to demonstrate his Ahavat Yisrael. No condemnation of others, just encouraging us to emphasize the positive about an organization - ehther it's his organization or another. In truth, both organizations do important work; it would truly be "shevet achim gam yachad" if they would work to co-ordinate where appropriate.

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  31. There is no such thing as 100%
    Tzadaka for an charity unless
    it just takes in money and writes
    checks or distributes food via
    volunteers. Then there is usually
    a few percent needed to send out
    receipts and pay for minor things
    like a phone. In the real world
    if you keep your overhead under
    30% you are considered a success.

    *******

    Thats exactly the point. The way most organizations are run, they pool all the money, and take out whatever they need for expenses and the rest they give out. The kuppa does not have any overhead. Its all vollunteers. And all other expenses are paid for from other sources. When you give a dollar to the kuppa, $1.00 goes to the needy. not $0.70, not $0.88. A full dollar.

    I dont think that eidenson has to sign a letter bc some people have a complex that some rumors are started by him. To believe these things - as many of the commentors have - is to believe LH and rechilus.

    I think we all need to grow up and just try to help out.

    Clearly there is a lot of ill will from the LA supporters and fans - as is evidenced by these comments. Its unfortunate, but I can imagine its all stemming from the KST side.

    Oh, and by the way - I am not a kuppa supporter. Im from "mishkenos" and we have are own kuppa

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  32. Thats exactly the point. The way most organizations are run, they pool all the money, and take out whatever they need for expenses and the rest they give out. The kuppa does not have any overhead. Its all vollunteers. And all other expenses are paid for from other sources. When you give a dollar to the kuppa, $1.00 goes to the needy. not $0.70, not $0.88. A full dollar.

    How can you say that Kupa has no overhead? They have employees. They have printing and other expenses. This upcoming event isn't free. The money that they take from sponsors is not going to help the poor.

    I'm certain that other organizations with "official" overhead could make the same claim that "so and so" sponsors our printing or so and so pays for our office. But they don't say it. They are "transparent".

    Let Kupa have overhead...every organization that does great work does. But they should be up front about it and not use it as a subtle "hit" at legitimate organizations who are honest about their finances.

    According to this 100% tzedaka idea we should not support any yeshiva, kollel or shul. After all..aren't there expenses? They must not be 100% of what they claim to be.

    When Kupa depsoits my check..it costs them. When they have someone post posters..that costs too. So do their secretaries.

    To say that one is "better" because of the 100% claim leads to questions of honesty and sincerity.

    One other thought...when one needs real medical help why go to a doctor or hospital? They take money and perhaps are not 100% medicine? Why not just run to the local EMT..he does it for free?

    The answer is simple. The EMT does a great service and has an important job. But due to his limitations and other obligations he can only do "first aid".

    It is the trained professionals with whom we trust our complete care. They have the time and resources to do "things right".

    Perhaps this is a difference between an all volunteer versus a professional organization.

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  33. ONE HUNDRED PERCENTFebruary 05, 2008 10:19 AM

    100% FUEL!!

    "Welcome aboard this Boeing 070 to New York.

    "You'll all appreciate that your ticket price is going, 100%, that's ONE HUNDRE PERCENT my friends, to the aircraft fuel.

    100% FUEL!

    The aircraft is on loan from the Central African Republic - and I'd like to personally thank President Ubadoogoo. We'll be visiting CAR on our trip to NY to personally thank him.

    The aircraft hasn't been maintained for a while, in order to keep to our 100% FUEL commitments to our passengers. We think it's safe enough to fly.

    Food has been donated by the UN Aid Agency; we hope you enjoy the bags of flour.

    I also request your patience. Our volunteer pilot for today, Mrs Cynthia Bigheart, is running a little late, as her kid has the flu.

    Perhaps someone else would like to drive?

    100% FUEL!

    Heh, where are you all going??!!"

    ReplyDelete
  34. "Thats exactly the point. The way most organizations are run, they pool all the money, and take out whatever they need for expenses and the rest they give out. The kuppa does not have any overhead. Its all vollunteers. And all other expenses are paid for from other sources. When you give a dollar to the kuppa, $1.00 goes to the needy. not $0.70, not $0.88. A full dollar."

    The above statement substantiates
    the what kuppa alledges about 100%
    tzedaka is nothing but a misrepresentation of what they do.
    They have overhead and it and
    what is given to cover overhead
    reduces the money avaiable for
    direct services. When you claim
    that it is not you are lying.

    AS I stated previously let the
    Kuppa open their books to the
    public and goverment and show
    us all that every dollar goes
    to help those in need. I feel
    they will not do this because then
    everyone will see that they
    have been deceived by them.

    Whe I was in busioness and gave
    a donation to a charity with
    my business name that was displayed I considered advertising
    as I knew their were cost of printing and also I was in reality
    trying to improve my business
    image and get new customers.
    I knew the money was not direct
    help to those the organization
    were trying to help but helping to cover their expenses. It is not the
    businesses who are deceiving the
    people it is the charity who
    says it has no overhead so all
    the money they receive is going
    to their clients.

    Unfortunately in some circles
    lies are considered acceptable
    because when you a dealing with
    tzedaka "the end justify the
    means" or in plain english
    it is okay to lir if if you
    are doing it to get tzedaka
    funds from someone.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Speaking of opening their books, can anyone tell me if the Kupa has s'if 46 approval for tax deductions? Are they a recognized amuta by the Israeli Justice Ministry? If the answer to either question is yes, then it should not be too difficult to obtain audited financial statements to shed more - objective - light on the 100% tzedaka issue.

    ReplyDelete
  36. truth vs. peace?
    the well-known nevua of Zechariah regarding the fasts becoming feasts at the time of redemption ends with the phrase "vehaemet vehashalom ehavu"
    R' Shimshon Refael Hirsch makes an historical observation when explaining this phrase and why it belongs.
    the 1st bet hamikdash was destroyed due to the three "cardinal sins" - there was a drive for peace at the expense of truth
    the 2nd bet hamikdash was destroyed due to sinat hinam, and there was an overemphasis on midat hadin - truth at the expense of shalom.

    the true redemption will happen when we finally get it right - truth AND peace.

    ReplyDelete
  37. What some Rabbonim (Da'as Torah) have said about Lema'an Achai...

    "I hereby publicly announce the praise of my friend HaRav Avrohom Leventhal Shlit”a and the organization which he leads: “Lemaan Achai”, in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

    “Lemaan Achai” has accompanied Ramat Beit Shemesh since the neighborhood’s establishment. The organization helps the needy of all our brethren through a variety of activities of charity and kindness.

    All those who support “Lemaan Achai” are doing holy work; they are becoming partners to an honorable charity organization, working with the honored askanim (community activists) who dedicate their precious time to rebuild that which has been destroyed amidst the Jewish people, thus bringing the redemption closer, may it come speedily in our days. Amen."
    HaAdmor Rav Kalman Menachem Shapira

    "As the Rav of Beis Tefillah Yonah Avraham , serving the community of Ramat Beit Shemesh, I am familiar with the ‘ma’asim tovim’ (good works) of the Lemaan Achai chessed organization, which always manages to be there to lend a helping hand, and ear (sometimes just as important) , to families in crisis.

    The whole Congragation is well-acquainted with their multiple and varied accomplishments, and have held BH successful appeals in our Shul for them.

    R’ Avrohom Leventhal, the executive director, is a respected member of the RBS-A community. His varied many actions attest to his honesty and competence.

    I wholeheartedly recommend aiding this organization in whatever way one is able to."
    Rabbi Chaim Zev Malinowitz

    "Lema’an Achai is blessed with people who are dedicated to promoting a common communal cause; the welfare of Ramat Bet Shemesh residents. This doesn’t only help the needy; it affects the donors and volunteers by promoting gemilus chasodim: the practice of brotherly love towards one another. The end result is that a sense of unity is generated among all residents of Ramat Bet Shemesh."
    Rav Baruch Rubanowitz, Rav of KSY

    "Lema'an Achai fulfills the Rambam's doctrine of the very highest form of tzedaka – helping a needy person in such a way that they will no longer require tzedaka.
    It utilizes a large framework of professional volunteers to provide desperately needed services, such as food parcels and food coupons to the needy, job counseling, legal and financial aid, tutoring for children and many other mitzvot bein adam l’chavero." Rabbi Shalom Gold - Kehillat Zichron Yosef (Har Nof)

    ReplyDelete
  38. 100% tzedaka? 200% tzedaka?

    a couple of points:
    - i don't know hoshen mishpat backwards and forwards, but i seem to remember there are clear provisions for "overhead" in handling tzedaka. it is part of real life, and legitimate.

    -if an organisation does "handouts" - it is just that. 100%, minus overhead if any.
    if an organisation gets someone back on their feet with the money so they do not need the handout the next month, they have saved that money to help someone else. it seems they have received a greater then 100% "return on investment" - perhaps it is the original 88% (100% minus the 12% overhead quoted) times 2 or more? =176% tzedkaka? 264%?

    "elu devarim sheadam ochel peroteihem baolam hazeh vehakeren kayyemet leolam haba....." >100% return on investment.....

    ReplyDelete
  39. Oseh Shalom B'imromavFebruary 05, 2008 2:17 PM

    The Silence is Deafening!

    Where are the voices of our local Rabbonim? Other than Rav Solevechik has any Rav spoken publicly (or even privately) on this matter?

    These Rabbonim all know about Lema'an Achai and I'm certain that each of them have receipients who daven in their shul.

    I'm certain that they will go to the Kupa Melave Malka to show support but what will they do for Lema'an Achai?

    It would be great for unity and healing in our community if the Choshuv Rabbonim would show equal support for each organization.

    ReplyDelete
  40. some rabbonim do show equal support. and if lmaan achai had a similar dinner open to the public, I am sure some of them would go to it. Just because some Rabbonim are going to this dinner, does not mean they do not also support Lmaan Achai.

    For example, this past shabbos, the gabbai in a certain shul asked the Rav to mention in his drasha the importance of the upcoming melave malka and that everyone should try to attend.
    When the Rav did so, while he did not mention Lmaan Achai by name (and I think it would have been inappropriate had he done so), he also added that there are other organizations in the neighborhood as well and they all need our support (I do not remember the exact wording). This Rav has spoken for Lmaan Achai on occassion as well. he has publicly supported both organizations.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Well, all I can say is that I have been astounded by the clear bias without substantial proof about the kupa. It seems loshon hora is acceptable in these forums. A good look at these posts shows total disrespect for halachah when writing about fellow Jews.

    I don't really care presently who is right. It's not for me to decide as I am not an expert in the runnings of either organization. But I will say that the language and content of these posts by people who seem to support LH leaves a lot to be desired and ruins the whole crux of your arguments.

    Writing a blog does not give cart blanche to loshon hora and the right to make unsubstantial comments on things we don't have full knowledge.

    Just my opinion but I don't suppose it will be accepted.

    ReplyDelete
  42. This is my first post here - all I can say is that these posts are horrendous - clearly Rafi has the best kavannos - but as far as most of the comments, it is clear that there is tons of sinah (which is exactly what this was trying to circumvent), I am sure that R' Soloveitchik would be quite unhappy if he saw that this was the outcome of his speech, as it seems most of the posters here have missed his point. David Morris and Lema'an Achai do amazing work for the community with the best of kavannos, AND kupa does wonderful things for the people they help out, ALSO with the best of kavannos! Very nice, shalom al yisrael.
    While I wasn't involved in rumors, and certainly don't know all the who-spread-what besides what was posted here, who says that fundraisers weren't making this stuff up themselves? maybe it was even just one fundraiser who does not officially work for the kupa who came up with this and it spread like wildfire? maybe a fundraiser even said stuff a bit more mild and people blew it out of proportion when telling it over? (Ever heard of broken telephone?!) Either way, each organization means well, does great things (even if possibly there are mistakes, no one should be finger pointing), and I believe THAT was R' Soloveichik's point....and I think he would be thrilled if everyone would walk away with that point and leave it at that.
    Additionally, whoever posted anything negative about talmidei chachomim in the community, should know that all the averios of loshon hara and/or motzei sheim ra are MUCH MUCH worse when speaking out against a talmid chochom. You don't necessarily know everything firsthand, and many things can be said over incorrectly by the time it gets to you. Additionally, a Rav is generally acting and paskening based on their knowledge of torah, and every talmid chochom in this community knows much more torah than you and me, even if you learn torah all day. And EVEN IF everything written was 100% true, it is total loshon hara and the transgression of several aveiros, as the DEFINITION of loshon hara, is saying things that are TRUE and negative!! (otherwise it's motzei shem ra) - both of which are more chamur when said about a talmid chochom!

    So whoever is interested in following up on the topic, let's continue to read Rafi's peaceful posts, with the goal of creating and increasing peace in this community, and in the zechus of getting rid of or at least holding back sinah, and stopping ourselves, even once, from speaking/typing loshon hara, we should be zocheh to achdus yisrael and mashiach b'meheirah b'yameinu!

    ReplyDelete
  43. Anon-

    To the best of my knowledge there has been only one person with the title Rav who has been criticized on this post.

    If he is truly a talmid chachom his ways should be darchei noam and he should be from those who bring "shalom" to the world.

    In this case there are few who would argue that this is not the case.

    It is not a question of motzei shame rah or blowing things out of proportion.

    This Rav is proud of his actions and does them in front of Am Vaeda.

    ReplyDelete
  44. wow!!
    I am horrified that Rav Soloveichik, the possek of Lema'an Achai, was put in a position that he had to defend his good name and daas torah that he represents.
    Oy Lanu.

    ReplyDelete
  45. I think part of the problem here is perception.

    Let me explain. The Eida HaCharadis of yerushalyim has some very strong views. Views that the average (even Charedi) RBSA resident may disagree with or even be opposed to.

    Yet...when it comes to hashgocha everyone will run after something "Badatz haeida". It seems more authentic. perhaps we're scoring more points in Shomayim. That isn't to say that Mehadrin Yerushalyim isn't good or Rav machfud, etc. It's just that we're impressed by the image.

    In our town we have different organizations that do Chesed and Tzedaka. Both help charedim and non Charedim. Both do great jobs. However just like we prefer the "image" with Badatz we also may feel that the "image" of Kupa is better to be associated with. I think that this attitude is not only with donors. It is also the feeling of Rabbonim, volunteers and businesses whom, although they know Lema'an Achai is great and helps many it just isn't as "Charedi looking".

    I just hope that for our sake HKB''H agrees with this assesment and will judge us favorably for our desire to be connected to the "right image".

    ReplyDelete
  46. "In our town we have different organizations that do Chesed and Tzedaka. Both help charedim and non Charedim. Both do great jobs. However just like we prefer the "image" with Badatz we also may feel that the "image" of Kupa is better to be associated with. I think that this attitude is not only with donors. It is also the feeling of Rabbonim, volunteers and businesses whom, although they know Lema'an Achai is great and helps many it just isn't as "Charedi looking".

    Does Hashem judge us on the image
    we portray or the accomplishments
    we have made. When someone says he is a better person because of the way he dresses or the shul he davens in then he is not looking
    at his fellows Jews as equals.
    It is a shame that some people
    want to say they are greater
    then Hashem because they can
    determine who is a better person
    by the way they dress. They
    don't want any one but themselves
    to be considered meeting the
    criteria they have set. It
    is a shame these people make
    Hashem cry because he wants klal
    Yisroel to love each other and
    work together not to attempt
    to destroy one another, with
    ego complexes.

    In a shul in the US I davened
    a new man came to town and was
    Charedi looking. He joined
    the congregation he said he was
    a Kohen and duchened with the
    other Kohanim. After a year
    it was found out he was not
    a Kohen or even Jewish. He
    was an arab. With his dress and
    hidden behind the beard he
    was able to fool every one.
    My point is when someone
    starts to judge people by their
    appearence we are defeating
    the reason we were put here.
    That is work together. Cast
    systems belong in India not
    Eretz Yisroel.

    We all meet Hashem in the same
    shroud. Please stop this who
    has a better has the hashukah
    bit. Stop acting like Moslems
    and trying to destroy those
    who do not think like you.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Let me explain. The Eida HaCharadis of yerushalyim has some very strong views. Views that the average (even Charedi) RBSA resident may disagree with or even be opposed to.

    "Yet...when it comes to hashgocha everyone will run after something "Badatz haeida". It seems more authentic. perhaps we're scoring more points in Shomayim. That isn't to say that Mehadrin Yerushalyim isn't good or Rav machfud, etc. It's just that we're impressed by the image."

    So you are saying that although there is a Rav in town whom most of RBSA strongly opposes when he puts his hechsher on the Kupa (and he actually started it) it becomes a "better image" or more authentic?

    HaShem Yerachem alainu!

    ReplyDelete
  48. This is complete embarrassment to read. People should spend more of their time doing productive things instead of spreading lashon hora, rechilus, prejudices and many more negative things.

    ReplyDelete
  49. "I just hope that for our sake HKB''H agrees with this assesment and will judge us favorably for our desire to be connected to the "right image"."

    This person if he is representative
    of the Kupa supporters is impressed
    by "images" not reality.

    The reality is that both Kupa and
    Lemaan Achai need the support of
    the community. They are both helping to take care of the needy
    and some will suffer if they are
    not supported. If either says the
    other does not have the right to
    exist they are commiting an averah.
    Those who give to both are doing
    doing the right thing. The trouble
    is there are those who are more
    concerned with "image" doing the
    right thing. If Moshe Rabbeinu and
    Avrohom Avinu were to walk the
    streets of Ramat Beit Shemesh
    they would be avoided by some because they were not wearing a bekesher and black hat or shtriemel so not giving the right "image". Hashem warned
    us not to worship idols. "Images"
    are idols

    ReplyDelete
  50. In the Image of HaShemFebruary 06, 2008 2:31 PM

    Right on anon!

    "If Moshe Rabbeinu and
    Avrohom Avinu were to walk the
    streets of Ramat Beit Shemesh
    they would be avoided by some because they were not wearing a bekesher and black hat or shtriemel so not giving the right "image"."

    If Rav Aryeh Levin (Tzaddik in Our Time) were alive he'd be in cherem
    as he was a talmid of Rav Kook, Z''L.

    If Rabbi Akiva was around you wouldn't let your daughter marry him...he comes from gerim.

    ReplyDelete
  51. While I concur that many of the comments on this blog are disrespectful and without taste I must say that in general it is a good thing.

    In the absence of official statements by the organizations themselves and the silence of the Rabbonim this blog provides a safe forum for those who sincerely wish to express their views.

    While some of the posters sound like raving lunatics the overwhelming majority are expressing their views in a clear and respectful tone.

    I for one much prefer this type of setting to hear protests than throwing rocks, blocking traffic or viloent public demonstrations.

    It is important for the parties involved to know what is being said "on the street".

    I do urge restraint and shmiras halashon except where there is a "toeles" in finding the truth.

    ReplyDelete
  52. To Thine Ownself be TrueFebruary 06, 2008 11:52 PM

    B''H we have a mechanism by which ti improve ourselves. It's called a Cheshbon HaNefesh.

    It doesn't really matter what the public thinks or says about Lema'an Achai or Kupa. It doesn't matter what a representative of either organization "meant to say".

    We have a Boray Olam Who is Bochain Laivovos.

    He knows what really happens and what was really meant and what goes on where no one else can see.

    He also knows that Tzedaka and Chesed transverse type of kipa, nusach of davening and brand of hechsher both on the part of the giver and receiver.

    He knows what is 100% Tzedaka and what is not.

    He knows whether Chesed is being done smartly or not so smartly.

    He knows what is the ultimate da'as Torah for He wrote the Torah and gave it to His people who stood "K'ish Echad Blev echad".

    Let us all make a Cheshbon haNefesh. Instead of venting or "answering" on the blog we should look inside ourselves and at our own deeds and see what we can do to improve ourselves.

    By making certain that our own house is in order we will be able to work as one for the good of the Klal.

    The Sfas Emes once said that each and every midda and mitzva in the Torah has the simple way and the middas chasidus.

    To this one chasid asked and what about emes, truth? Either one is truthful ornot. How can there be a middas chasidus?

    The Sfas Emes answered "yes, to be honest and truthful is the simple mitzva. The highest form of this mitzva is to be honest with yourself!"

    ReplyDelete
  53. We're All in This TogetherFebruary 07, 2008 9:34 AM

    Rafi - thank you again for having this blog. I'm certain that it is a thankless job.

    I have been following this "story" not only through the blog but through word on the street and actual perception.

    Here's my take:

    We have in RBSA 2 great Tzedaka organizations that work to make this a better place for us all.

    Both are run by Bnei Torah and have backing of Rabbonim. Both spend tzedaka money on what matters most...needy people.

    However I do see that Kupa has the "edge" in 2 areas:
    1) Business support. Shefa Shuk is giving 10K a month as Rav Eidensohn said in his response. Many other local businesses seem to support Kupa as well. I don't see this with Lema'an Achai as much.
    Therefore Lema'an Achai must depend more on the "little guys" for support. That my friends, is you and me.

    2) Kupa has a great network of "collectors". I surmise that Lema'an Achai would also like to have such door knockers to help them. If they don't it is probably because everyone is busy helping Kupa. Perhaps we could help Lema'an Achai in that way as well.

    If those in the community are really into this tzedaka and chesed lshaim shomayim let them help both organizations equally! This would be a tremendous zchus for RBSA and all of the Klal.

    In light of the tragedies, R''L that we are experiencing these zchuyos are needed ASAP.

    I don't think anyone in the community wants to see any one organization suffer because in the end only those who need will lose.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Lema'an Achai vindicated:-

    On Behalf
    Of Kupa Shel Tzedaka
    Sent: Thursday, February 07, 2008 11:44 AM
    To: rbs@cs.huji.ac.il; rbs@yahoogroups.com
    Subject: [RBS] Lemaan Achai


    Lemaan Achai is a wonderful organization and a valuable asset to our
    neighborhood. The Kupa Shel Tzedaka absolutely condemns any negative
    comments made against Lemaan Achai or any other worthy Tzedaka or
    chessed organization.



    Shmuel Zalman Eidensohn
    Chairman


    Rephoel Leitner
    Executive Director


    Dovid Greenwald
    Treasurer

    ReplyDelete

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