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Tzedaka — To Whom

The torah tells us that one should help out the poor and not close our hands to the poor. When does the lav of closing our hands to the poor apply. What type of person is that talking about? In shul many people collect, and I have no clue of their financial status. I see a group of the collectors driving a decent looking car and they don’t seem poor to me. Am I obligated to give them? Also, how am I supposed to know who am I obiligated to really give to and who I am not?


The Gemara (Kesubos 68b, and Rashi) writes that we should give credit to the rama’im (tricksters), for they save us from sin, in that we have an excuse for not giving charity!

This indicates that where a person is concerned that the collector is a fraud, he is not obligated to give charity.

However, for ordinary collectors–and I know, there are many–there is not reason to suspect that they are fraud, and most people would not undertake such a degrading occupation if they were not extremely needy (I know, there are exceptions).

The prohibition of not closing our hands to the poor is referring to a person who is truly poor, meaning somebody who lacks the means to support himself and his family. If you are concerned, ask for a certificate that confirms the person’s financial status. You can actually read the certificate, and ask a couple of questions. As for the car, it might not be theirs…

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