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Rabbi David Sperling

Sivan 19, 5781
Question
1) Shalom Rav, I gave a minimum amount of money when a person asked me for money on the street and he started saying not so nice things which I will not mention. What should be my response ? What should be my perspective in this situation when it says in tehillim 109:31 for he stands at the rightside of the destitute.
Answer
Shalom, Thank you for your question. Before we get into the question of what your response should be – let me share what must have been your pain and embarrassment at what happened. It must have been uncomfortable, at the very least. May you be spared from such pain in the future. You are correct in wanting to give even a small amount of money to those who ask for charity. However, there are opinions that this does not apply to those who ask everybody passing by for a donation. All would agree that if you did give them some money, even a small amount, and they choose to reject it, that you are free from any further obligation. One is not obligated to give the amount of money that every person on the street asks for. The opposite is true – one needs to be discerning in there giving of charity funds. For this reason we are commanded to give out our charity monies through people and institutions who can truly check and make sure that the money goes to those truly in need, and is used in the correct way. (It would be incorrect to give a large donation to a person on the street who you are unable to verify their story and need). The only reason we would give a small amount to those who ask on the street is to strengthen their spirit, and to lessen their embarrassment. If they choose to reject that offer – it is certainly not your fault. As to your response – I would advice you to judge the person favorably. That is, they are probably troubled and not in full control of their behavior. Have compassion. That doesn’t mean giving more money. In fact, it might mean that the best thing to do is to quietly keep walking away. However, in your mind and heart, you should tell yourself that the beggar is a troubled soul, and that the good L-rd should bless them with only good. I hope this is of some help.
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