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Feb 14, 2021

Interesting Psak: dressing as an avreich for Purim

It seems, from anecdotal evidence, that people who appear to be avreichim command higher donations on Purim than people thought to be bochurim - perhaps even twice as much according to some "experts".

This common belief has led many bochurim collecting money on Purim to dress as avreichim, to bring home the bigger pot.

The question was raised if this "deception" is allowed or not. On Purim can one dress up to appear as an avreich to collect tzedaka knowing that people thinking he is really an avreich will donate more? is this some sort of deception and theft?

Hamechadesh brings a psak on this from many gedolim including Rav Yitzchak Zilbershtein, Rav Shammai Gross, Rav Moshe Klein, and others, and in the name of Rav Chaim Kanievsky, saying that this is allowed. They explain that this is the custom and is acceptable and everyone knows that people are dressing up and they give whether it is a bochur or an avreich. There is no concern of theft by doing this. The qualification of this is that there can be no actual lying - the person collecting cannot say he is an avreich if he is not - he can only dress as an avreich. 

Not only that but Rav Gross added that you can go to the same house multuiple times knowing the donor is generous and gives openly. You cannot lie - if the baalebayis asks if you have already been there, you cannot lie or be a smart aleck - you have to tell the truth, but if he gives without asking and does not notice that he already gave you, that is fine.

The initial issue makes sense to me. It is Purim and people know that the collectors are dressed up and that they don't really know who is behind the costume. The second issue seems strange to me - people might have a dozen or a couple dozen collectors and likely wont recognize them all. If he is giving small amounts, he might not mind, but if he is giving significant donations, he might not want the same person coming a few times to take knowing that he won't be recognized. But that is Rav Gross's psak.

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  1. For the uninformed, how does an Avreich dress differently from a Bachur?

    In Modi'in we have fewer collectors coming door-to-door, but if someone comes to shul, how could I tell whether he is married or not from the way that he is dressed?

    1. Me, when I see a shtreimel on an alms-seeker, my first thought is, "You could afford that..."

      OK, maybe I'm being ungenerous. But still.

    2. That's if it is a real shtreimel. On Purim it could be a fake. I just bought one for this year's Purim costume. Only US $ 14. True, it's polyester, but what can you expect for that price?

      I can confidently brag, "No animals died to make this fashion item." Heck, no plants died either. Just some petroleum by-products.


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