MAILBAG: Open a Tzedakah That Only Gives to Working People

Our community is truly beautiful. When someone is in urgent need of help, thousands upon thousands of people step up to the plate and do what they can to assist them. But there is one area in which we are sorely lacking.

To illustrate my point, I want to remind everyone about something that happened during the 2012 presidential campaign. Republican nominee Mitt Romney made a comment to donors essentially saying that wealthy people are doing fine and poor people have a comprehensive safety net, but nobody is looking out for the middle class.

Romney was scolded for apparently “not caring” about poor people – a ridiculous line of attack – but I think his point is very relevant to our kehillah.

We have very wealthy people, baruch hashem. We also have very poor people. For those people, there are multitudes of organizations, programs, incentives, and so forth to assist them. Take rebbeim for example. They aren’t paid much, but they qualify for every government program, there are special sales for them at stores, they get free or heavily discounted tuition, and so on. They work short hours, they have a lot of vacation time, and they have more than enough time to tutor on the side and make side cash. They are also well respected (they’re giving up their life for klei kodesh!).

Now juxtapose that with someone like myself. I work as an accountant and get paid what is considered to be “good” – around $130,000 a year. But with seven children, I can barely get by. I don’t qualify for any welfare programs, I don’t get discounts at stores or on tuition; nobody cares.

There are so many people just like me. People who decided to take on a job to be able to put food on my table. And a decade later, I’m the one struggling, while my neighbor, a rebbi, has children wearing fancy clothing they got for pennies at the pre-yom tov sales.

I’m not upset at rebbeim and I’m very grateful our children receive such a strong yiddishe education from them. But the idea that only rebbeim need our community’s help is ridiculous and an insult to the thousands of people just like myself drowning in bills.

What we need is an organization that will help out baalei batim. Not everyone needs it, but there are more than enough who do. Whether this organization would just make it cheaper to buy clothing or help discount tuition, or give loans that will allow them to become more successful and not require help, I don’t know. There are many ways this can be done.

What I do know is that we need help. And we need it fast.


A Hard Working Baal Habayis

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  1. If you really believe the the yungerleit in bmg are better off. Go join them.
    Additionally there is a chiyav to give a Talmud coaching tzedakah first. There may be exceptions to that rule but even so I would rather have a part in the rebbi s learning than…

    • So if a hard working family man comes over to you and says “I can’t pay my bills” your answer to him is go learn in kollel??? If yes you don’t know the difference between right and wrong. If no then your stam dishonest

  2. I think part of the problem is what you mentioned regarding the Rebbi’s children wearing fancy clothes, etc. I find that the tzedakos today, including those for kallahs, have raised the bar so that those who can’t afford luxurious items are getting them anyway. That leaves the middle class with no resources to keep up with the trends. Our children are left feeling second class or worse, we are pressured into spending money we don’t have so they can feel like they fit in. I believe, and I was raised, that you should live within your means, and the tzedakos should be providing as such. There is a overall sense of entitlement that this generation of children is being raised with, and I think this is a big part of the problem.

      • ‘Day Machsoro” is referring to someone who was once at that level. Not giving extra to poor people so they can live like the rich.

        • Incorrect. It also means that we give them enough to live normally. So unless you believe that these guys are creating the normal (and you’d have no way of knowing that) you need to give them enough to live a decent life according to normal standards in their social circles

  3. People aren’t supporting yungerleit and Rabbeim because they think they are poorer than baalei battim like you. It is because they want a share in the zechus of their Torah. This is as it should be, of course it would be a big Mitzvah for someone to help people in your shoes. But comparing Klei kodesh to you just based on need is missing the boat.

  4. The writer is 100% right. And especially now with inflation that’s affecting so many of us and additionally the people like myself that are in the real estate related business and on commission only that were doing well before the mortgage hikes and sadly haven’t seen a cent for months, are strggling beyond imagination..
    I strongly urge those that are in a position to help, to reach out to your rov to see if someone in your shul/kehila is struggling and needs help because chances are, there are many that are and even friends that you didn’t realize..and it doesn’t have to be a handout, perhaps just to lend for a little while till the markets settles and the rates come down and hopefully many will be in a position to repay… there are so many yechidim struggling out there… if you have to lend this could be the חובת השעה.

  5. Very well written letter. I would have skipped the part about the Rebbi’s kids clothing because it not relevant to your plight and gives the wrong impression.
    However it is true that people are to their neck and we have to figure out something as a community.

  6. I feel bad for you and there should be places for you to turn for help. Your impression of the lifestyle of rebbeim, is the exception though, not the rule. The overwhelming majority are struggling just like you are. There are independently wealthy rebbeim who do live a lifestyle that is out of reach of the middle class Ba’al Habayis.


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