Business Halacha: Tzedakah Money That Got Lost


coinsQuestion: I collected $500 of tzedaka and the money got lost. Must I pay this from my own pocket?

Answer: The Gemara (B.M. 56a) derives that a guardian is not responsible for property consecrated to the Temple (hekdesh). However, donations to a shul, Torah institution, or other charity organizations are not included in this exemption; a guardian of money earmarked for these causes carries responsibility like any other guardian (C.M. 95:1; 301:1; Nesivos 301:6).

Therefore, if the money was lost through negligence, you are responsible. If you received payment for your efforts, such as a paid gabbai tzedaka or fundraiser, you could be responsible even for theft or loss in the mail (see Noda B’Yehuda C.M. II:54; Ketzos 72:5).

However, if the money was not designated for a specific institution or organization, but was generic “tzedaka,” it is considered as money that has no claimant. Therefore, you cannot be made to pay. However, you still have a personal, moral responsibility to pay if you were negligent and in financial position to cover the loss (301:6; Pischei Teshuva 301:6; Tzedaka U’Mishpat 10:[20]).

Authored by Rabbi Meir Orlian

These articles are for learning purposes only and cannot be used for final halachic decision.

The Business Halacha email is a project of Business Halacha Institute ( and is under the auspices of Rav Chaim Kohn.

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  1. Is their a difference if mamash the actual bills were lost or if the money you raised was being ‘borrowed’ until you give in the money.

    For example – when I raise money for tzedaka – I tell the organization that I dont promise to give the exact 100 shekel bill that is donated to me. I understood from my posek that because I have the ‘zechus’ to use those bills, I also become completely responsible for all thefts/losses

    But this psak does not distinguish? Did I misunderstand my posek?