Question: 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:).
Authored by Rabbi Meir Orlian
These articles are for learning purposes only and cannot be used for final halachic decision.
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