Thursday, June 25, 2009

E-Fink's Tzedaka Case

A guest post by E_Fink


A few weeks ago I debuted as a DovBear guest poster with an ethical quandary. If you recall, I had befriended a Jewish homeless fellow who lives in his van in Venice Beach. A struggling artist, he was down to his last few pennies. He came to me asking for Tzedaka and I simply did not know what to do.

I presented the issue in greater detail in the original post and the response was tremendous. There were a lot of comments to the post ranging from the hard-lined "give him a penny and you are a 'Rasha'" to the "who cares what he does with the money - it is still Tzedaka".

At first DovBear was unwilling to let me post, as he did not want a first-time guest post to seem like a solicitation. He was right so I made sure to indicate that our shul had the funds,

Turns out an anonymous reader of DovBear sent me some money anyway. He said he would cover the $1000, no questions asked. He was not concerned with what happened with the funds and was only concerned that this fellow be given the opportunity to leave Venice Beach.

[DB: I'm pleased as punch that my readers are so generous. As a totaly unrelated point, I'd like to remind the readership that donations and contributions are gladly accepted here, as well. Just click on the donate button.]

I made sure he was serious and that I offered no warranty as to what would happen with the money after I gave it to the homeless fellow.

He sent me $1000 via Paypal and made no stipulations.

[DB: Holy crap]

I went to my friend and told him that an anonymous person had given the shul $1000 for his benefit. I then added my own stipulation. He had to guarantee he would use the money to get to Montreal.

At first he hemmed and hawed as many of you predicted, but in the end, he decided he would go.

I told him after the money cleared it was his and he should make necessary arrangements. The morning that I was to deliver the money to him he asked me a "shaila". He said - "how important is it to be at my grandfather's funeral?". His mother's father was dying in Montreal and he wanted to be there. I told him, it is a huge Kibbud Em to be there for your mother before and during Shiva. He replied that it was a sign.

You see, he was having second thoughts. He was thinking that maybe he would take the money and go to British Columbia and sell some art there and hopefully he would have enough to get to Montreal. (A terrible plan.) As soon as he heard that his grandfather was very sick, he realized the folly in that plan and rededicated himself to getting to Montreal.

I gave him the money, he called me every morning until he got to the Canadian Border and he is now back in Montreal.

He is enrolling in a government sponsored vocational school and expresses his immense appreciation to those who believed in him and got him this second chance.

No comments: