Soliciting Tzedaka

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It is permitted to use the web to solicit tzedakah funds for widows, orphans, yeshivot and and kollel wives.

Before there was a web, yeshivot and orphan homes would collect tzedaka using snail mail.

The rabbanim would send gifts in the snail mail, so that the recipients would be shamed into giving money for tzedakah. Some rabbanim would send calendars. The best scheduling calendar was sent by Agudath Israel of William Street. The Agudath Israel calendar was wide and thin, and covered sixteen months, so that one could schedule one's appointments which would be planned for after Simchat Torah the following year.

The most portable calendar was that given by the National Council of Young Israel. It easily fit into one's pocket, and had space for addresses of friends and business contacts, and also had Mincha, Maariv, Birkat HaMazon and Tfillath HaDerech. The Young Israel calendar was a gift of Tower Air. Rabbi Pinchas said that the Orthodox Union calendar was similar to the Young Israel calendar, but because it was printed on thicker paper, it was thicker when bound and was often difficult to remove from one's inner pocket.

The least portable calendar was from the yeshiva in Far Rockaway; it had the davening and Shabbat times specially inscribed to correspond to the times for the recipient's home location, but it was useless when the user traveled away from home.

Other tzatzkehs besides calendars were given as gifts to shame the recipients into donating money for tzedakah. The Yeshiva of Telshe sent greeting cards, useful on all occasions. The most useful for Pesach was a book by Rabbi Avrohom of Far Rockaway, which told of the laws of Pesach, and which foods were kosher L'Pesach. The most useful for one day was the Kol Dodi on Megillath Esther which was sent out by Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem. The most useful for two days was the Haggadah reprint given by the orphan home in Jerusalem which was founded by Rabbi Yehoshua Lieb of Brisk. The most useful for eight days was the box of Channukah candles sent out by the Yeshiva of Telshe. The most useful for forty-nine days was the Sefirah counting chart sent out by the Yeshiva of Lomza.

The friends of the institutions of Tiberias would send out Meir Baal HaNess prayer cards, but they were easily lost and few can be found today.

The most scholarly tzedakah gift was a scholarly journal published by a yeshiva on Staten Island every Succot and Pesach, which was sent out to the supporters of the yeshiva.

Some yeshivot sent out foods in order to obtain donations. [Ayn kemach, ayn torah]. The most appetizing were the fruits and nuts sent out by the Torah Academy High School of Brooklyn. The most inedible was the dehydrated charoseth mix sent out by the Yeshiva at Telshe. The most fattening were the chocolate candy bars sent out by the Hebrew Academy of Suffolk County.

Rabbi Ben Big-Big once went to the web page of a wealthy merchant in Great Neck and asked for a contribution. The merchant replied that he would send the money over the web when Rabbi Ben Big-Big sent a plate of Nova Scotia lox over the web. But the Internal Revenue Commissioner says that the fair market value of the lox must be subtracted from the amount of the donation in order to properly qualify for an income tax deduction.


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Author Ken Ryesky
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