A Guest Post by Rafi G.
I wrote on my blog about a set of posters put up around RBS in which Rav Kanievsky is quoted that people should give preference for mattanos l'evyonim to the local tzedaka organization over non-local organizations, but then the poster therefore calls on the readers to give, in Rav K's name, to one specific local organization (over other local organizations).
The specifics of the story are local to RBS, so i will not write about it here (hop on over to mine if it interests you). But the issue is a general issue that affects everybody.
Nowadays, in the days surrounding Purim, we are inundated with various groups of yeshiva boys knocking on our doors to raise money for their yeshivas or tzedaka organizations. We are inundated with posters and flyers calling on us in the name of this gadol or that tzaddik to give to this organization over others or that organization over others.
It is deceptive and manipulative to misappropriate the words of the gedolim to raise money for your organization with the attempt of taking your money away from the organization you would otherwise have given to.
Another ramification of this incident, is how it proves that the words of the gedolim can be, and are, manipulated and used for ones benefit.
They could have said Rav Kanievsky said to give to the local tzedaka, and left it at that. They probably would have gotten a little more money than otherwise, as people would think that Rav K supports them. His name behind an organization carries weight. But instead they chose to corrupt his words for their own goals. Now, we wait and see how it will affect them. Will they make even more money because now it looks like Rav k says they are better than the others, or will they make less because of the backlash of their trying to deceive the local residents?
When we hear all sorts of statements in the name of the gedolim or various Rabbonim calling for this ban, that boycott, this declaration, this new hanhaga, etc. - we need to ask ourselves - did the quoted gadol really mean what they are telling me he meant? Does one person stand to gain from this over another, and therefore try to manipulate us? Or did he really say that and mean it as it was quoted?