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Charity for Natural Disasters

What should our response regarding charity given to natural disasters? Is there any sort of chiyuv, is it just a nice thing, or it should be avoided and your money should be going towards Jewish institutions?

What if the amount you are giving won’t affect your giving to other charities?

Answer:

The Gemara in Gittin 61a dictates that the non Jewish poor should be included in charitable donations. This being to facilitate peaceful coexistence between Jews and non Jews. There is a discussion in the poskim in Y:D 251, whether this means only together with Jews, or even on their own. The accepted ruling is like the Shach ibid. that they should be given to even on their own.

It is brought in the name of Rav Moshe Feinstein [Sefer Maaser Ksafim] and Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky [Emes LYaakov Y:D note 137] that this includes charitable causes like medical research and the like. Natural Disaster charities would certainly be included. There may not be an obligtion on each individual, but every community needs to see to it that donations are being made to these causes on some level.

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