Am I responsible for money stolen from my Tzedakah Pushka?



I have a specific pocket in my pants for Maaser, I generally give it to people on the streets who are hungry, but the money somehow fell out today and it was a substantial amount, a little over 100. What do I need to do?



Am I responsible for tzedakah money stolen from my house?

Whether or not one is responsible for replacing tzedakah money that was stolen while in their possession depends on their shomer (guardian) status. Following are some of the general guidelines:

If the tzedakah money had not been designated to a particular recipient yet, no one has a claim to it; thus the one that was holding the money doesn’t have the status of a shomer, and is not obligated to replace it. There is, however, room for stringency latzeis yedei Shamayim (to do the right thing).

If a specific amount of money was earmarked for a recipient the person holding the money is considered a shomer. If the guardian receives no benefit from guarding the money, they have the status of a shomer chinam (an unpaid guardian). Therefore, if the money was guarded properly and not left in a pushka in full view, or other unsafe place, they are exempt from replacing the money. Nonetheless, it’s recommended to be stringent, and repay the money to tzedakah.

In a case that they do derive benefit from safeguarding the money—either through the prestige accorded a gabbai tzedakah (one officially in charge of tzedakah funds), or because they often borrow from the tzedakah fund—they are regarded as a shomer sachar (a paid guardian) and are obligated to replace the loss.

If one’s own tzedakah money (such as money set aside for ma’aser) was stolen, their (the victim’s) commitment to tzedakah may remain unfulfilled until the money is replaced. Whether or not they are required to replace the money depends on many factors, but those are beyond the scope of this halachah.

In case it’s determined that ma’aser money has to be replaced, one may deduct the sum of the stolen money from their total income, thus lowering the amount they owe for ma’aser.



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