Sep 17, 2009

Interesting Psak from Rav Elyashiv: Gimmicks for fundraising

The newspaper Ba'Kehilla is quoting Rav Elyashiv as having said to the board of the Vaad HaRabonnim tzedakka fund that there is nothing wrong with using gimmicks and "stories of yeshuos" in their fundraising efforts.

(obviously this is only a quote from a newspaper article, and they probably were only told what he said and did not actually hear it from Rav Elyashiv himself, so whether he actually said this or not, as always, should be taken with a grain of salt)

I have previously heard from big rabbonim that for the purpose of teaching a lesson, giving mussar, etc. one can make up stories - in other words all those gedolim stories you hear, or stories of simple people who did something great, that get passed around to learn a lesson from, those stories might or might not have actually happened.

With tzedakka it might be different, because you are enticing someone to give you money using false pretenses. So the psak is a bit surprising, if true. I guess tzedakka trumps everything and aside actual deceit and theft, maybe there is room for leniency...


UPDATE: I just saw this article in that says the paper was pulled and reprinted. As soon as it was discovered that they ran this "quote" from Rav Elyashiv, representatives of the Vaad HaRabbonim (associated with Rav Elyashiv) contacted them immediately and told them to not allow such a false quote to be printed in Rav Elyashiv's name.

So, while it might be ok to make up stories for inspiration and mussar, it is still not ok to make up stories to deceive people into donating money.


  1. perhaps gimmicks and "stories of yeshuos" were not meant as *false* stories. rather, these are stories that happened, but they are interpreting the repercussions in various over-the-top ways.

  2. what is even more interesting is that in this weeks Hamodia they have a supplement from the Vaad Harabonim. There is a major statement on ti about it being a segulah for yeshuos.

    So Rav Elyashiv said they could use such gimmicks, then he said they couldnt, but then his own tzedaka organizations uses the gimmick anyway...

  3. I heard something about 2 years ago maybe in the name of Rav Shteinman that it's ok to use advertising (such as these stories) to get people to give tzedakah.

    I think it was pulled for a different reason: the Kupah didn't want it in print that it's something that is potentially quesitonable, or labeled "gimmicks."

  4. Hey, is saying KAFUL at every collection considered a gimmmick?

    Can someone please tell me why the "Kupa is always empty" but when it comes to a competing campaign around Yom Tov there is all of a sudden a generous double giver?
    Maybe he should save his money for the other times when the kupa is "empty".


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