The new era of Tzedakah…$50,000 raffles

When I was a kid you didn’t get much gashmius in return for your tzedakah, you got the good feeling every kid gets when their parent gives them mitzvah money for the pushka box, but you didn’t get prizes or money in return for your mitzvah. I cannot recall ever receiving more than a pat on the head, a yasher koach or a tizku l’mitzva for giving tzedakah until recently. I do recall my father sending dozens upon dozens of small checks to every institution that asked him for a hand out and in return we received a lot of snail mail spam and charoses from Telze Yeshiva. In the past few weeks I have entered myself into $50,000 raffles in the name of tzedakah and I’m not sure how I feel about the whole thing.

First my wife entered us in the Chabad on Campus raffle, then my buddy entered us in another Chabad raffle and most recently I bought a ticket for The Shmuz. The thing about all of this is that I like to give tzedakah to any worthy organization, especially local ones, but when national or deep pocketed hocker types get into the game it seems that we may lose the appeal of tzedakah in exchange for the slight chance that we will get something besides good deeds and good feelings in return.

This brings up the whole argument about how we get people top do mitzvos, is it proper to pay someone to learn, go to shul or give tzedakah so that they will eventually do those things for the right reasons? It’s a conundrum I’ve had for sometime and it’s a good debate to have – especially during these recession times when it seems that based on Chinese Auctions and Raffles that no one gives plain old tzedakah anymore. Is it healthy to teach the mitzvah of tzedakah to children through the Chinese auction catalog, or does that just teach gashmius and materialism?

And if you expect your odds to be good toward winning, remember that none of these raffles is made for folks like me who buy one ticket for the sake of giving. The Shmuz woman was shocked that I would pass up buying 10 tickets for $250 instead of one at $36, especially when I could get the free gift…

Find more tzedakah raffles on