- P'ninat Mishpat
(based on Chelkat Yaakov, Choshen Mishpat 12)
Case: In a certain pre-war Jewish community, there was a time when there was no official chevra kadisha, and when someone died, they would call upon people from the region to carry out the burial preparations. The practice developed that the money the family would pay went to a needy, local Torah institution. The community decided that they needed a set chevra kadisha, which since its formation has been using money from the families to fund its own operations. The Torah institution says that since they are muchzak in proceeds of funeral charges, the chevra kadisha cannot deprive them. [I understand that the needs of the chevra kadisha did not warrant using all the money they receive.]
P'ninat Mishpat (722)
322 - Keeping the Donations in the Traditional Place
323 - Backing Out of Purchase Due to Changing Neighbors
324 - Buying Looted Seforim from the Slovakians
Admittedly, the Yerushalmi (Gittin, ch. 3) says that there is no concept of makirin regarding ma’aser ani. However, that is assuming one has the right to decide to which ani he will give. Therefore, in our case, where those who gave to the Torah institution had the authority to give to whom they wanted, makirin would apply. It is also likely that the Yerushalmi said this because one considers the possibility that the poor person will escape poverty or die, two scenarios which limit the period he is expected to receive. In contrast, one cannot treat an institution that serves a whole public as one that is not expected to continue to exist, and makirin applies. In any case, the Rambam (Ma’aser 7:6)paskens that makirin does apply to the poor. Rav Yosef Engel cites a Midrash Tanchuma that applies the pasuk of "do not steal from a poor person" to one who does not continue to support the poor person that he had in the past.
There is logic to say that makirin does not apply because there is no obligation for the donors to receive the money for their service that is slated for the Torah institution. However, this is not true, since the whole concept is based on the concept of the promise of a small present. Since it is natural for a good Jew to want to help in a mitzva, such as supporting a Torah institution, the commitment to do so falls under this category.
It is likely that we cannot apply here the idea that if one is making efforts to receive something, others cannot intervene and take it first (see Rama, Choshen Mishpat 237:1). However, based on the halachaof makirin, the group should be required to continue giving something to the Torah institution, and they should come to a compromise as to how much.