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Oct 12, 2008

why we do not give enough tzedakka

Watch out whom you give tzedakah to. The following story, really a funny incident when looking at it in hindsight, is exactly what the gemara refers to when it says that the frauds save us. By tricking us into giving tzedaka to people who are not worthy, and thereby causing us to lose faith in the recipients and therefore withhold tzedaka donations, they are giving us the excuse that saves us from judgement as to why we do not give enough.

This incident happened on erev Yom Kippur. David Morris, the founder of Lemaan Achai tzedakkah organization, went to the area of the Dil V'Zol makolet on Dolev to set up a stand for collecting donations, as he does before all the holidays.

As he arrives, he sees somebody else, somebody he does not recognize, with a stand collecting donations. the kicker is that this guy has a handwritten sign saying Lemaan Achai. He is told that the fellow is telling people he is collecting for a hard up family who needs to make a bar mitzvah.

He approaches the fellow and tells him that he is welcome to collect, but not using the Lemaan Achai name. He is not allowed to ask for donations using their name, and he is tricking the people into giving money they would not otherwise give, and he is taking that money away from the real organization.

The fellow got upset and started arguing. His main argument is "What's the difference? We are all "Achai" anyway"?

David repeated that you can collect money as much as you want for whatever you need, but you cannot use the Lemaan Achai name and trick people into giving you.

the fellow got upset and attacked David. He tried to hit him but some people came out of the store and blocked his path and protected David.

In the meantime, the police were called. They came, gave a donation to Lemaan Achai - the real one (only in Israel would the police come to the scene and first make a donation before dealing with the situation), and took teh guy aside. When they understood what was happening, they told him he cannot use the name, and if David wishes to he could press charges for assault. David chose not to.

The guy agreed to get rid of his homemade Lemaan Achai sign. A few moments later he pulled out of his car a new sign that said Hachnassat Kallah, and continued collecting money.

There you have it. We have to thank this fellow for giving us the excuse we need to be meritous in judgement as to why we do not give enough tzedakka.


  1. LOL

    I saw that guy; he looked a little... uh... shady.

    I wonder if he has a sign in his car that says "Kupah Shel Tzedaka" ;)

  2. lol -

    When David told me the story, David said the guy picked a bad location - if he was really smart he would have gone down to the merkaz mischari and nobody would have ever noticed. I said, he should have stood outside with a sign kupa shel tzdaka instead of Lemaan Achai and he would have made much more money!

  3. ah, rafi g and all your faithful readers. this is why i am in business - i represent about 15 donors, philanthropists and foundations from the usa/canada/england. i make sure that when they give tzedakah money away, it is done right.

    not only to real places, and not only to places doing good work, but to people and places who use tzedakah money wisely, efficiently and effectively.

    that is, no high overheads (under 15% for everything - salaries, fundraising, admin costs, etc.)

    anyway, i also am happy to check things out for anyone who makes a donation. you can never be too sure!

    arnie draiman

  4. I don't *really* see what's so funny about David Morris being beaten up in front of the local makolet and requiring public and police protection, while in the course of collecting funds for Lema'an Achai.

    And this is, unfortunately, a glaring symptom of a much wider 'sickness'.

    Lema'an Achai is an amazingly successful, effective and innovative organization - deservedly the pride of RBS - and streets ahead of any other tzedaka organization I know of in Israel, or even in the USA.

    However, I see Lema'an Achai are constantly hampered in their legitimate and critical fundraising, by local politics and cynical opportunists.

    Did you know that there are shuls, and entire neighborhoods, within RBS A, who don't let Lema'an Achai fundraise? That there are respected local community rabbonim, who refuse to sign simple letters of recommendation for LA?

    And it is davka these communities which typically have the MOST amount of recipients of Lema'an Achai's services. eg. According to a presentation in Beis Tefilla this shabbos, over 75% of LA's recipient families describe themselves as chareidi.

    Lema'an Achai itself is 'color blind' and solely helps people according to objective Needs. Black, White or No kippa.

    When will sectors of this community put politics aside, and support this amazing organization, which does so much to help THEM??!

    This guy at the makolet was just rather more crude in taking advantage of Lema'an Achai's good name and good works and attacking these tzadikim who do mesiras nefesh for the zibbur - than many many others, shuls, rabbonim and citizens, who are effectively playing the same deceitful and dishonest 'game'.

  5. I personally find it funny to hear about violence there that's not related to little kids playing in the park... or to the owners of a nearby store.


    Ok, no, I really don't think there's anything funny about any form of violence anywhere. Even arson is not humorous. Ever.

  6. And what about the Kapparos fiasco?

    I see weeks of adverts for Lema'an Achai then at the last minute Kupa takes it over..another example of strong arming Lema'an Achai out of tzedaka.

  7. fowl - that story is really nasty and I did not want to go there. nothing beneficial would have come of it. unlike previous incidents that I was willing to take on because there was potential to rectifying a wrong.

  8. you just convinced me to make a donation to l'maan achai. although i have issues with supporting a populace that doesn't appreciate it...

  9. This is the reason that Olam Hatorah was set up. In order to verify the names and info given for those who collect tzedaka.

    Check it out next time you want to verify a meshulach at your door or the many charity letters you receive.



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