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Rabbi Elchanan LewisCheshvan 12, 5769
Shalom, Yesterday a friend and I were talking about religios matters while standing at a street with me telling her in loud and preacherous words how important it is to give charity and share what you have with the needy when one of those needy, nearly teethless, came directly to me and said: You have been talking of the L`rd, please give me one Euro despite I am looking that ugly and you are a beautyful woman, I need it for cigarettes. She said that she needed the money for cigarettes and nothing else and that she wanted it only from me and not from my friend who was ready to give it to her. And she said: If you give it it will not harm you. I hesitated because there was something in her face that somehow reminded me of the rough Germans who have stood full of hostility and hatred when there was a pro- Israel- demonstration two years ago and my mother is smoking herself to death right now, so I said strictly: No. She felt humiliated that she had to ask and ask again with no result and cursed me. Now I feel guilty because it might have caused her humiliation or even hatred against religios people in general which might endanger someone I don´t know in future. Maybe she was searching for G`d and my rough answer stopped her from doing so. So: How should I act in such a situation and whom are we ordered to give charity for which reasons? A good person for evil means, like alcohol and cigarettes or drugs? An evil person who really needs our help but will continue to spread hatred the moment the needy situation is gone? Only the good for good aims? No one, to be on the sure side? Everyone? And if we do the wrong thing and realize later - and cannot find the person we harmed no more - how can we make it good again?
Most people have only limited resources; these should be distributed in a wise way. If you have the financial ability to support a good cause or a bad one, chose your best of options. In any event, when a person asks for Tzedakah and you suspect the money is not going to a good cause – don’t leave him empty handed, always give something small [even as small as a one coin] If you know for sure the money will go for an evil cause [drugs, alcohol] – you shouldn't be part of that at all.
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