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May 15, 2008

This man was Godly

"From when he was a little child he fought for everything holy", "Always guarded himself from ever seeing anything inappropriate", "never wasted a moment of time", "took care and assisted other people, whether at home or in kollel", "with his kids he was caring. he listened, he participated in their lives, he lifted their spirits, he taught them to understand and to listen, to daven, to love to fulfill every mitzva carefully in great detail. he took them to their ride for school, and he would be waiting for them when they came home" etc etc etc.

The above are excerpts from a recently distributed piece of tzedaka spam recently distributed.

The poor fellow died from some desease, leaving orphans and a widow with no financial support. The flyer goes through the whole spiel describing their situation.

Now, I don't doubt this guy was a great guy and a wonderful father, along with all the other people described in all the various flyers distributed all the time.

But why is it that these guys are always described as nearly being the perfect man? Do regular people, people with weaknesses and foibles, not die, or do they just not collect money for them? And even if this guy was really a great guy, was he really so perfect?

This just refers to the description of the subjects of these collections as practically the perfect person. I know I am far from perfect. Reading these flyers, and I rarely do, makes me think what they would write about me, chas v'shalom, if I was in that situation. Would they write how lazy I am and how much time I waste? Would they write about how I did not spend enough of my free time learning? How I did not spend enough time, quality time, with my kids?

How do they honestly come up with these godly descriptions of people?

This does not even refer to the ads for tzedaka that promise salvation for those who donate through them. That is a separate issue.


  1. I believe that these adverts are similar to an Artscroll biography.

    They simply change the name and pictures..the content is the same.

    When I was in Lakewood a former yungerman opened a life insurance company with excellent terms. Many rabbonim were for it while others were against (lack of emunah, etc.).

    When I went to buy a policy this yungerman said the following (quite tongue in cheek):

    "Oh, so you don't know about the Lakewood Kollel 100K insurance policy?"
    I asked him to explain:
    "You see, if someone dies challila we have 1,000 families in Lakewood. each family will be approached to give 100 dollars and 1,000x100 is 100K - that is the Lakewood insurance policy"

    Today many rabbonim and askanim are promoting the idea of insurance. May we all live ad maeh v'esrim and never use the policy!

  2. is it halachically permissable to "extend" the truth (chas v'shalom that was the case here) in order to raise money for tzedaka?

  3. Many people in this forum have defended this practice of "massaging" the truth for worthy causes.

    Such terms as:
    "No overhead"
    "These people have NO food to eat"
    "100% Tzedaka"
    "Electricity was cut off in x homes"
    "Rav So and So (who has never even been in your town) says to give all of your tzedaka to..."

    and the like bring up the issue of truth in advertising.

    While it is always for a good cause..just how far can one go in order to appeal to the hearts of others?

    And if the gabbai tzedaka have free reign in advertising and extending the truth what does that say for the integrity of the organization and how they distribute funds?

  4. We always hear that one should rely on Hashem for protection/ health/parnassah, but should also do our own hishtadlut.
    Is 'hishtadlut' purely a spiritual entity, or does it also involve a material dimension of making an effort? (Such as taking out health insurance, putting aside money for weddings, becoming qualified so that you are employable)?
    I'm not being sarcastic, I really want to know what people understand by this word.

  5. anon - as far as I know and have heard, hishtadlus does mean one has to put forth effort. That means buying insurance and the like. The question how much is called hishtadlus and how much is beyond hishtadlus. That is more of a personal thing and depends on everyone's personal level (spiritual and whatever).


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