A person should
be very careful not to allow tzedakah funds to get mixed up with his own
money. If a person finds money in his house and is in doubt whether it is
tzedakah or not, the poskim disagree on the din, but clearly, but letzait
y’day shamayim a person is required to give it to tzedakah.
incurred in collecting tzedakah may be taken from the tzedakah collected.
The cost of those expenses is, itself, considered tzedakah. A person who
collects tzedakah is permitted to receive a portion of the funds he collects
according to the agreement he reaches with the management of the institution
for which he is collecting. But person who is collecting independently, or
the director of an institution who raises funds should consult with a Rav to
establish the amount he may keep for himself. In this way he avoids
suspicion of stealing, for not everyone is capable of determining for
himself if he is permitted to receive a portion of the funds and how much of
it he may keep for himself. I any case, the percentage cannot be very great,
for the donor did not have in mind that he should retain a large percentage
of the tzedakah he gave for himself.
A person who
keeps a percentage of the tzedakah he collects is considered a shomer
sacher and is obligated to cover any losses resulting from theft or loss
of the funds he collected. If he doesn’t keep a percentage for himself, but
benefits from he money he collected by using the cash, he is also considered
a shomer sacher. Even if he does not benefit from the funds he
collects in any way, the poskim are not in accord on his status and some
hold that he is, nevertheless, responsible for tzedakah he collected as a
shomer sacher. But all agree that a person who is not as a careful as he
should be to keep the tzedakah he collected safe is obligated to cover an
losses that result from theft or loss.
If money is
collected for a specific poor person and more is collected than is required,
the funds remaining belong to that person. The poskim discuss at length how
to handle tzedakah that was collected under the mistaken assumption that
funds were required
collect tzedakah should be careful to distribute it immediately to those for
whom it was collected, even if it was not collected explicitly for immediate
distribution. It is forbidden for the person to collected it to hold it. He
must distribute at the first opportunity. According to the Shulchan Aruch, a
person who collects tzedakah may not borrow it for his own use even when it
cannot be distributed for some time. Nevertheless, it is now commonly
accepted as permissible.
If a person sets
apart eighteen or some multiple of eighteen monetary units of tzedakah, he
may add to it without losing the benefit of the segula of the number
eighteen, for eighteen is included in whatever number results from the
amount he adds. Similarly, a person can add to the two candles that we light
on Shabbos, one representing shemor and one representing zachor
candles, without losing the symbolic value of the two candles.
If a person puts money
aside from which he intends to give tzedakah on Purim, and some of it is
left over after Purim, is he allowed to use it, or must it be given to
tzedakah? If he set the money aside intending to give it as tzedakah, then
it remains tzedakah, for both in thought and deed he had designated the
money for tzedakah. But if set it aside with the idea of simply having money
available from which he could give tzedakah, i.e., in setting it aside, he
did not have in mind that he was designating it all for tzedakah, then he
may use what is left over for any purpose.