When Meshulachim Attack
I live a fair distance from the major Jewish areas of the east coast and as such most of our meshulachim are imported. As with most imported goods there is a tax to be paid – in this case the driver who ferries these charity seekers from Brooklyn, Lakewood, the airport? At a cost of 20% of the collectors “take.”
On a recent Sunday afternoon, as my husband and I were preparing to go out to a simcha my younger daughter came running upstairs in a panic yelling “Abba Abba there’s a RABBI in the house!!!”
We have told our daughters MANY MANY times that they are not allowed to open the door for anyone they don’t know, but it seems that in our rushing in and out of the house all day, we’d neglected to lock the door (which happens too often I must confess.)
After practically pushing my husband down the stairs he came down to discover a small older man dressed in black standing in our living room and looking around. “You shouldn’t leave your money out like that” he said to my husband in Hebrew pointing at my husband’s back wallet on the table “someone could take it.”
After that he launched into his hard luck story, actually several stories, about his family, a school he is collecting for, he divorced daughter, etc... As my husband finished writing him out a check I came downstairs to see what was going on, and check our bank balance, when the doorbell rang again. This time it was three more people, who had arrived on the street in the same car as the little Rabbi but opted to strike out on their own in the hopes that my husband wouldn’t divide his weekly donation by four but rather by three after paying the little Rabbi separately. At this point I became fearful that my husband (who was offering them water nice man that he is) would be pressured into giving away the store, causing us problems later in the month. I will consent that it is very hard to make a compelling argument to Tzdaka collectors that you don’t have the money when you are dressed to the nines at 4PM on a Sunday afternoon. So out of guilt he gave them more than was comfortable for us and they still complained. After that I wished them well and closed the door.
I hope and pray that I am never on the other side of that door but can’t there be a way for me to help people without the 20% tax off the top. They all requested that we make out their individual check to the same place – can’t I just send my checks there to avoid having my home invaded weekly by people who are unknown to me and whose stories are not confirmable in the one minute I have to make my decision?
The more this visitors come to my door the colder I begin to feel, I hate that about myself. These people haggle and they argue and are not polite or do they seem grateful (well the little Rabbi did, but then again he also entered my house uninvited and I don’t even think vampires do that!!) It’s like a business, the business of money collecting and I’m not sure that’s an industry I want to support anymore.