Should I be giving money to organizations like the Cancer Society, the Police Benevolent Association, and other gentile organizations when they solicit money from me?
The Gemara says מפרנסים עניי עכו”ם עם עניי ישראל – “We are obligated to support the gentile poor together with the Jewish poor” (Gittin 61a). That means because of darkei shalom, in order to keep peace, we give some charity to the goyim as well. In order to create a good impression, when you’re giving money to a Jewish poor man, and at the same time a gentile comes by for charity, you should be careful to give him something as well. It doesn’t mean that you have to give him the same. But for the sake of shalom, you give him something.
It says עם עניי ישראל – “With the Jewish poor.” Only when they come together. When this נכרי, this gentile, comes by himself, then you’re not obligated to give him anything. He could just think that you’re a tightwad; but not that you’re impartial to Jews. However, you should always be careful, because if it will create animosity, you should make sure to give him something. You’ll have to use your own judgement.
You know my prescription for that. You’re sitting in the subway and a so-called blind man comes into the car tapping with his stick, and he’s peeking through his small glasses, looking for customers. He’s walking around and nobody is doing anything. So when he passes by, you just take out a penny – not a nickel, because this fellow is not worth a nickel – and you take that penny and drop it into his tin can. Don’t let anyone see that it’s only a penny, and you drop it into his tin cup with the most resounding bang that you can. And then lean back virtuously to enjoy the admiring gazes of your fellow passengers. Look, you have to do something, so you make it worth it.
When you’re waiting on line at the post office, and this gentile woman comes by. She’s knocking her pushka for veterans or cancer or some other gentile cause, so it’s good to always have a penny ready. Drop in a penny and she’ll give you a big thank you. And you’ve done what is required of you.
TAPE # 74 (May 1975)