Section:  Avodah   Category: Ahavas Yisroel
Rav Zushya of Anipoli - Why It Pays To Give Tzedaka To Suspicious Collectors
We are bombarded day after day by people collecting tzedaka.  Many of them have dubious claims, and some have been collecting every Monday for the emergency heart transplant that they need to have for the past 35 years already. Why should we give them?

The Gemara in Kesubos (68b) says that we must thank the Rama'im, those people who collect money as if they are poor, since if not for them we would be punished for not giving Tzedaka as the pasuk says (Parshas Re'eh 15:9) וְרָעָה עֵינְךָ בְּאָחִיךָ הָאֶבְיוֹן, וְלֹא תִתֵּן לוֹ; וְקָרָא עָלֶיךָ אֶל-יְהוָה, וְהָיָה בְךָ חֵטְא, you will cast a bad eye on your poor brother and not give him.  He will call out to Hashem and you will have sinned.  SInce there are so many cheats we can always use that as a defense of our stingy behavior.

The gemara (Bava Kama 16b) says that Yirmiyahu davened to Hashem that he should only send unworthy beggars to the people who persecute him, so that even if they want to do a mitzva, they will give money but not even have the Zechus of Tzedaka to protect them.  Rav Zushya of Anipoli asks how could Yirmiya who loved and cared so deeply for Klal Yisroel ask for such a terrible thing from Hashem?  Why would he be so vengeful?

He answers that Hashem pay us Mida K'Neged Mida.  If Bnei Yisroel, who were facing destruction, would act mercifully only with people who really needed and deserved help, then Hashem would also only save those people who really deserved to be saved.  What would then become of the sinners who persecuted Yirmiya?  His solution was to have them give Tzedaka to undeserving people, this way he can daven to Hashem that just like they pitied undeserving people, so to Hashem should pity them although they are not worthy of any mercy.  This ploy by Yirmiyahu was meant to provide a safety net for his tormentors, and not Chas V'Shalom to seal their fate for death.  This shows you the true Ahavas Yisroel of a Navi!

We don't want Hashem making ugly faces when we come around asking for something, so why not show Hashem that one not need be deserving to get a smile and some change from us?

We ourselves are not expert face readers so it would be foolish to take a look at someone and judge his integrity and authenticity.  Besides do you really believe he is living it up on your account?  Somehow I don't think we'd want to switch lives with anyone who ever came to collect.  Moreover there must be a few true tzadikim in the mix and surely there will be a great Tvia on us in Shamayim for emotionally hurting a great tzaddik.  For some small change for each person, isn't foolish to miss out on a great mitzva.  Look at it as investing.  If you give out 10 dollars, even if nine are a waste of time, the 10th can be worth millions!  Sounds like a great investment to me.

Just this morning I overheard two people in Shul saying that it must have been a good year for a specific person who comes around collecting every Thursday.  Since he didn't come this week he must be away on vacation they surmised.  Normally I don't mix into other people's conversations but this time I turned around and told them that I know this person personally (after checking him out myself) and he happens to a great tzaddik whose life is dedicated to helping and collecting for others.  He not only collects but makes them food and takes care of their needs, all this while being an extraordinary Masmid who sits and learns a full day. 

With Tzedaka you never know.  Give it a shot.  All it takes is a dollar and dream!