Rav Wosner: Keeping Returned Stolen Tzedakah Money

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rav-wosnerAn incident happened in which someone collecting tzedakka money abroad for an Israeli yeshiva was mugged. The driver had dropped him off at the guest house where he was staying, and on his way up with his case containing the money he had collected 2 muggers attacked him and ran off with his case.

He called for help and people from around came over to assist him. He pointed at the muggers running away and said throwing his hands up in despair that he has been destroyed, all the money is lost.

A few of these avreichim chased after the muggers, and actually caught them and obtained the case of money which was returned to the grateful meshulach.. One of the avreichim mentioned, explaining how much of a chessed it really was, that because the meshulach had given up hope, really when they retrieved the case of money they could have kept it for themselves. Giving it back to the meshulach was really a tremendous chessed.

Upon the meshulach’s return to Eretz Yisrael, he went to Rav Wosner to ask about that.

Rav Wosner paskened that it was not a chessed, but was rightfully his. His despair had no affect on the status of the money, because he had no authority to give up hope. The money was not his that his despair would change its ownership status. Because the money belonged to the yeshiva, only the owners of the money, the yeshiva administration, can give up hope and make it hefker, but because they had not even known about it, the money belonged to the yeshiva all along and those avreichim would not have been allowed to keep it.

It is not addressed in the psak, but I wonder about the percentage taken by the meshulach. if he takes 40% (or whatever the actual number is), perhaps 40% of the money returned should be considered a chessed. It might depend on whether all the money goes to the yeshiva, and then the yeshiva pays the collector his commission, or if the collector takes his commission off the top.

Source: Rafi G-Life in Israel

{Matzav.com Israel}


  1. I find it incredible that the author of this article considers it routine and acceptable, (although it probably is routine) for a meshulach to receive 40% of his collections. Can you imagine anyone donating to the yeshiva after having been advised by the meshulach that he was keeping (or getting) 40%?

  2. Chessed shmessed. Returning the money was plain old-fashioned mentschlichkeit. The boy who talked about it being a “chessed” needs a mussar shmoose from his mashgiach. Looking for loopholes in financial matters is what’s getting us in trouble these days. “Be holy” – act properly. If you have trouble figuring it out, try reading R’ Hirsch’s “Horev” or R’ Pliskin’s “Love Your Neighbor.” And you can try the Gemara, or the Chofetz Chaim, or…. Being an erliche yid is a matter of hashkafah, not pilpul.

  3. #5 – You’ve definitely got me confused with someone else. I don’t advocate killing anybody, much less children. If someone is trying to kill you, you have the right to self-defense, but beyond that, no.

    I wasn’t talking about chasing the thief and getting the money back – that was a real chessed. My comment addressed the yingl who was talking about being maybe entitled to the money because the meshulach was meya’esh and that he was giving it to him as a chessed since he was actually entitled to keep it.

    Perhaps you ought to read the whole article and also the comment before you comment yourself. And when did I advocate killing children? Please refresh my memory.

  4. he prob gets a a set check each month from the yashivah. so even if he gets a persentage its only after he gives it to the yashivah and then they pay him. so really all the money belongs to the yashvah

  5. There is a famous story that the psak is based upon. It is from Europe years ago when a woman went to a market place and her money got stolen and they went to a gadol who paskened her husband had not given up on the money…
    Does anyone remember the whole story?

  6. #6,

    “I don’t advocate killing anybody, much less children.”

    Buddy, the link I provided is quite clear. You “justified killing Israeli/Jewish children.

    “Chessed shmessed. Returning the money was plain old-fashioned mentschlichkeit.”

    Perhaps you should read the article yourself before you shoot from the hip. Perhaps you be a tiny bit honest.

    You made no mention or distinction. You simply dismissed the whole deal.


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