Feb 27, 2019

Interesting Psak: money for tzedaka or for disrespect?

Rav Yitzchak Zilbershtein, rav of the Ramat Elchonon area of Bnei Braq, related an incident that happened with a yeshiva in the USA.

6 yeshiva bochurim decided to try to raise some money for the yeshiva. They went to one of the local gvirim, the wealthiest person living in the area of the yeshiva, according to the story, and solicited him for a donation to the yeshiva.

 Mr Money responded to the boys with an offer. He suggested the boys all jump into his swimming pool - fully clothed, right then in the heart of a cold winter - and for each boys that agrees and jumps in, he'll donate $1000 to the yeshiva.

All 6 boys agreed and jumped into the cold pool fully clothed, and the gvir wrote the yeshiva a check for $6000.

They went back to the yeshiva and submitted the donation. They later discovered that the yeshiva administration had decided to tear up the check. The reason being that this is not a donation to the yeshiva but is money for denigration and shaming and disrespect of the torah and it is inappropriate for the yeshiva to make use of such money.

The question remaining is, does the gvir need to give the yeshiva another donation of $6000, the amount he had committed to giving as tzedaka to replace the check that was torn up or has he fulfilled his commitment and the yeshiva's decision to not accept it exempts him from writing a new check?

Rav Zilbershtein paskened that the gvir does not need to write a new check. His commitment was not to give $6000 of charity but to pay for being disrespectful, so he does not need to write a new check.
source: Kikar

Good for the yeshiva tearing up the check. I am sure it was not an easy decision to turn away that kind of money. There is no yeshiva in the world that does not need a donation like that. They showed that there are things more important than money. Hopefully the boys learned an important lesson as well, about not degrading themselves and always demanding the respect each and every person deserves. This gvir was a bully. Perhaps the story is not accurate and maybe they actually offered some sort of tit for tat, maybe it was all in good nature and they were joking around, but at the end of the day, this is bullying and requiring this as a precondition for a donation is wrong.

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  1. To me, it shows, mi k'amcha, Yisrael. The boys were truly sincere and they just wanted to help the Yeshiva and were willing to belittle themselves by jumping in the pool and the Yeshiva proved what true G-D fearing Rabbis and people they are by discarding the check all for the honor of H' and Torah. We see that the yeshiva boys are being taught well. The only scoundrel is the gevir who used these boys for his own amusement at the expense of Torah. (Or to give some benefit of doubt to the gevir, maybe in his mind he was testing to see if these boys are really true to Torah and H' and were willing to denigrate themselves for the sake of Heaven).

  2. Future fundraisers.
    At least they're learning a worthwhile trade in yeshiva.

  3. Any way to verify if this story really happened and how it happened?


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