Giving Tzeddakah Properly

Giving Tzeddakah Properly

When the Satmar Rebbe, came to the United States after World War II he had a handful of Hungarian immigrants, most of them Holocaust survivors, as his Chassidim. As the custom is with Chassidic rebbes, the chassidim would come for a blessing and leave a few dollars for the rebbe to give to charity on their behalf. The poor immigrants would come for blessings, some leaving a dollar, others some coins and on occasion a wealthier chassid would leave a five, a ten, or even a twenty-dollar bill. The Rebbe would not look at the offerings; rather he would open the old drawers of his desk and put them in, ready, and available for them to be put to charitable use.

Of course, donors were not the only ones who visited the Rebbe. Needy people came as well. Each of them bearing their tale of sorrow, asking for a donation.

Once a man came desperately in need of a few hundred dollars, which the rebbe gladly agreed to give.

The Rebbe opened his drawer, and began pulling out bills. Out came singles and fives, a few tens and even a twenty. Then the Rebbe called in his Gabbai, “Here,” he said, “please help me with this.”

The Rebbe began straightening out the bills one by one. Together, they took each bill, flattened it and pressed it until it looked as good as new. The Rebbe took 100 one dollar bills and piled it into a neat stack. Then he took out a handful of five-dollar bills and put them into another pile. Then he took about five wrinkled ten dollar bills, pressed them flat, and piled them as well. Finally, he slowly banded each pile with a rubber band, and bound them all together. He handed it to the gabbai and asked him to present it to the supplicant. “Rebbe,” asked the gabbai, “why all the fuss? A wrinkled dollar works just as well as a crisp one!”

The Rebbe explained. “One thing you must understand. When you do a mitzvah, it must be done with grace, and class. The way you give tzedakah, is almost as important as the tzedakah itself. Mitzvohs must be done regally. We will not hand out rumbled bills to those who are in need.”