Every Jewish community is obligated to appoint people to
collect from each member of the community the tzedaka which it is fitting
that he should give. The people who are appointed should be known in the
community and considered honest and reliable. We have never heard of a
Jewish community that did not have a tzedakah fund.
Once a person accepts the responsibility of collecting
tzadaka for the community and begins involving himself in the concerns of
the poor, he cannot withdraw from the mitzvah.
Funds which are collected for one tzedaka may not be
dispersed to a different tzedaka. Tzedaka must be given to the person or
dedicated to the purpose for which it was collected. While collecting
tzedaka, a person may not say that he is collecting for one purpose or for
one poor person, while he has in mind to transmit the funds he collects to a
different person or to use them for a different purpose. To do so is a
deception that is close to stealing.
If a person declares to a poor person that he will give
him tzedaka, he may not give the tzedaka to another. If he states that he
will give tzedaka to a specific poor person, but that person is not aware of
his intentions, it is unclear whether he can fulfill his vow (for in saying
that he will give tzedaka he has made a vow) by giving to another.
Therefore, he should do what he has stated and give to the person he
If a person makes a vow to give tzedaka and then
immediately declares that he has changed his mind, it is not clear whether
the vow is nullified, for the poskim disagree. But when a person makes a vow
giving no external expression to his thought, his vow is nullified if he
changes his mind immediately. He can also change his mind later with respect
to the person who benefits from his silent vow. He is permitted to give the
tzedaka he vowed to a different poor person. A vow to give tzedaka is not
established by thought alone until a final decision is made. Entertaining
the idea or considering the possibility of giving tzedaka does not establish
Once a person transmits tzedaka funds to another person
for distribution, he cannot reclaim them for the purpose of distributing
A person who is entrusted with the task of collecting tzedaka from the
community must be very careful not to do anything that might raise the
suspicion that he is using the funds for his own benefit.