Collecting

We were at home, just about to sit down for our evening meal, when the front door buzzer went. On opening it, I was confronted by two men wearing the uniform like attire of dark trousers, a white shirt, flailing tzitzit, and a dome of a kippah. One was average height and looked, at the risk of over generalization, as a normal, average, plain guy. His companion was shorter, rounder, and had certain obvious physical ailments which I will not go into. Suffice it to say, he looked a poor wee soul.

Neither spoke English, but (as they hung on to the doorway) it became obvious pretty quickly that they were collecting for charity.

The shorter one assumed a mute pose while his taller colleague made the charitable pitch about the poor wee soul’s ailments, challenges and woes. I will spare you the details of his family and home situation, health prognosis, and general score in the game of life. (Hint: he did not seem to be heading for a passing grade.) A fair summary would be that the story matched the appearance of the poor wee soul. To back it up, a letter from a prominent rabbi was produced.

When the pitch was finished, I said something like, “Ok, that’s fine. Hold on a minute.” Then I went to find my wallet, extracted some cash and returned to the doorway to pass over my (not insubstantial) contribution. They both thanked me quite profusely, and I said goodbye and goodnight, and went to close the door. But they stopped me completing my task with a request for a cold drink. So, naturally, I got them a cold drink, waited for them to finish their refreshment, took the glasses back and said (again) goodbye and goodnight.

At this point in the proceedings, as I was looking forward to dinner and a quiet evening at home, the taller of the two said, “What about me?” he then gave a brief spiel about his own unfortunate circumstances. They were different, but no less challenging than those of his companion. However, I was unhappy (and I am saying this diplomatically) at the way this new charitable request had been made. If they had both said at the outset that it was a joint strike operation, that would have been fine. But to spring the surprise at the end, was not an approach I admired. I think I made a reasonable job of keeping my eternally happy disposition in place while I explained, as best I could, that they should share my donation. I must have been persuasive (or not as successful at keeping looking happy as I thought) because there was no argument. Off they went into the night.

That was my first exposure to tag team tzedakah. Welcome to Israel!

 

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