Friday, May 4, 2012

Keeping Chumras while taking charity

Readers question:
To your knowledge has anyone ever addressed the issue of keeping chumras ( eg. chalav yisroel, glatt, fancy esrog, hand shmurah, yoshon in the united states ) when you are living off of communal charity/donations ?

Also, again, if a shul is low on cash, can these things go ?


  1. These things aren't necessarily chumros. For example, according to many poskim cholov stam is treif and cholov yisroel isn't a chumra but mandatory. So if that's what your posek paskens, for you cholov stam is like milk from a chazir and treif.

  2. I remember being told a story about Rabbi Yisrael Salanter where he only used a reviit minimum to wash his hands, instead of more. When his students objected and said that using more water leads to more blessings, he pointed out that an elderly woman had worked hard to draw the water that he used, and had he used more, she would have had to go back for more. He quipped that he refused to be "frum" on her account.

  3. The issue is whether it is legitimate to take - if offered and whether if you have the money to give it to a poor person so he can keep his chumros - should you give it.

  4. I don't suspect there is an easy yes or no answer to this question but I think that Dan's point is important, just because you call something a "chumrah" doesn't make it one. Cholov Yisroel is a halachah and there is a big kula that Cholov Stam is its dynamic equivalent IF there is sufficient government regulations. There are communities that do not accept this pesak, it isn't a "chumrah".

    Another way to look at it is are you going to suggest that if someone is in a situation where the community has an obligation to support him (or her) that we are going to consistently require them to follow minority opinions on what is permitted?

    I think relevant to this discussion are the laws of seudah shlishis. When someone is able to avoid taking charity by skipping seudah shlishis and eating like it is a weekday it is better to do so. Once one has already required "public assistance" this is no longer an option and he is to be provided all three Shabbos meals.

    I'm sure that pragmatics play a factor but as I understand it there is an idea that someone who is wealthy should be supported to the lifestyle they were accustomed to prior to hard times. I would imagine that would be a factor here. There are quality of life issues to be considered, it seems to me.

  5. Good example is Matzos Yad on Pesach -- as well as use of exclusively Matzoh Shmurah for all days, including to children.

    How much goes to kimcha d'Pischa every year for this?

  6. Replies
    1. I'm sure that there are those for whom the only distinction between "kosher" and "mehadrin" in such evaluations is one of degree.

  7. see Pitchei Teshuvah

    Regarding a poor person who is strict to eat only Shmurah Matzah, or other stringencies to do with the flour, even though this is more expensive than regular flour, if one needs to give him for this purpose too?
    Apparently, this should be similar to the case of Damai, which the poor are given by the Gabai Tzedakah….and it is possible that the poor man is forbidden in this matter, in order not to be a burden on the community…but possibly, if the person is a Ben Torah and he is strict in this matter, one should give to him.

  8. It's actually a very good question. I often ate by a poor family for many years that would get Tomchei Shabbos handouts every single week. (Meanwhile they always had nice meals, always had dessert, and never lacked for anything.) It made me uncomfortable...

  9. I'm not sure if living off of charity has any connection to humrot, except if it's a career choice based on never wanting to actually involve oneself in the world because one might encounter something less than ideal ie: a man will let his kids go hungry while keeping a humrah of not working in a place where women also work, albeit tznuah women who wouldn't otherwise interact with them beyond the minimal necessary. I believe what's at issue is taking on humrot that lead to ga'avah. My daughter had a landlord who refused to fix anything (and she's chareidi) if her and all her roommates were there, but his wife or another man weren't there. Convenient excuse to leave water gushing out of the bathroom pipes for a day and a half then refuse to acknowledge his part in the huge water bill. We tried to explain that his humrah doesn't excuse him from his responsibilities under the rental made no difference.
    Some people just aren't well - try to give them the benefit of the doubt.


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