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Today is December 12, 2018 -

Torah Portion Vayakhel/Pekude

Are You Comfortable Soliciting for Charitable Donations?

In this week’s Torah portion we read about the donations that were given for the construction of the Tabernacle, the portable sanctuary used during our ancestors travels from Egypt to Israel. “All the gold that was used for the work…came to 29 talents and 730 shekel…The silver…came to 100 talents and 1775 shekel. (Exodus 38:24-29). Here we have the results of a fund raising campaign and there are many requirements concerning charitable funds in Judaic sources. One of my favorites says, “Tzedakkah funds are collected by two [people] and divided [for distribution] by three…[then this is explained that the monies are collected by two people] because we do not give authority over public matters to less than two and [it is distributed by three] since it is like a civil case [a legal matter where monetary damages are decided requires three judges by Jewish law]. (Baba Batra 8b) This is about transparency and integrity in fund raising and fund distribution. We should have confidence in the people who collect funds, and how they are distributed. We should always know how much of our donations are used for the purpose they are collected and how much is paid to the fundraisers or goes to administrative costs. Recently I taught that Talmudic text about tzedakkah to a class and heard some other interpretations for having fund raisers go out in groups of two. Solicitors going out in pairs can make it easier to collect donations. One may know the prospective donor better. One may be so well known as a fund raiser, that people don’t open their doors to him or her. One may be a better listener, the other more comfortable asking for money. Finally I recall one of my colleagues who once spoke to my Rabbinical School class in our last year of study. He said that you sometimes hear about Rabbis who don’t like to ask for money. However, he said, it is a great act of care to help support the organizations and institutions we love. We should not shirk from that task and having another solicitor with us makes it easier to do the important work of collecting tzedakkah. That is true for all of us and not just Rabbis.