Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Fundraising on the Sabbath

Fundraising on the Sabbath
By Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr

In Orthodox Judaism money is not carried or handled on Shabbat and thus one gives their “tithe” or “offering” during the week or after the Havdalah service immediately at the close of Shabbat.

Synagogues do not have offering plates or take up a collection as they do in Christian churches. They have what is called a tzedakah box in which a congregant on their own regularly puts monetary funds into the box for synagogue expenses, charities and such. No service, no songs, no passing of the offering plate. But I see no problem carrying money for the purpose of dropping it in the tzedakah box on Shabbat at the Shul, for monetary offerings temporarily take the place of sacrifices. And if sacrifices were given and offered on Sabbath and High Holy Days which were equal to the Sabbath, and even some pilgrimage sacrifices were exchanged for money and a festive meal with the Priests, I see no problem with dropping in a monetary sacrifice on Shabbat.

However, I do take issue with raising money for projects such as a charity drive, building fund, youth projects or even a missions project. In the Brit Chadasha even Rav Sha’ul would not permit the Corinthian synagogues to collect money for him on Shabbat.

"Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come." 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 

Sha'ul is requesting that donations for him and his work be set aside on the first week, which is Sunday. This money was to be collected ahead of time so that when Sha'ul arrived, the money would be ready to take to the believers in Jerusalem for distribution. Business matters, especially those regarding money are not conducted on the Sabbath; therefore any collecting of this sort would have to be done sometime during the week, Sunday through Friday. The Sabbath is not the topic here in this verse; a donation for the saints is. These were Jewish and Gentile believers who kept the traditions of the Jewish faith and worshiped on Shabbat, not Sunday. Nothing in this passage indicates a Sunday worship service; this verse merely speaks of a practical matter regarding fundraising; not about replacing G-d's Sabbath with a Sunday collection service! 

Business is not conducted on Shabbat and seeing as business deals with work, a livelihood; making and exchanging money, money in a business manner is not handled on Shabbat. Therefore we do not buy or sell on Sabbath.
Fundraising is actually a career for some people and is thus deemed as business or work, no matter how charitable or G-dly the cause and therefore fundraising is different than the giving of ones monetary offering which can be given on Sabbath and is hence not permitted (Exodus 20:10, 31:15, Lev. 23:3, Deut. 5:14, Amos 8:5, Neh. 10:31, 13:15,19)