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If someone gives Tzedakah to a person or fund, without knowing that that person or fund is deceiving them, is the Mitzvah still fulfilled?

And a very practical application: If maaser money was used, and the fraud is later made public, does that person need to backtrack and give more maaser money to cover it?

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Not an answer, but see Baba Batra 9B: "Jeremiah said to the Holy One, blessed be He: Sovereign of the Universe, even at the time when they conquer their evil inclination and seek to do charity before Thee, cause them to stumble through men who are not fitting recipients, so that they should receive no reward for assisting them." -- halakhah.com/bababathra/bababathra_9.html –  Menachem Sep 22 '11 at 6:27

3 Answers 3

R' Zevin writes in "A Treasury of Chassidic Tales" page 291:

R' Yehuda Tzvi of Rozla was once visited by a Chassid who gave him a kvittel (prayer request) with the accompanying traditional pidyon (money given to a Tzaddik).

The Rebbe asked him (rhetorically) how he, the Rebbe, was allowed to receive a pidyon; after all, the money is only given on assumption that he is a Tzaddik. As he (the Rebbe) knows his own worth, how could he take money given to him on false assumptions?

The Rebbe answered that there is a Gemarah which says that Yirmiyahu cursed the people of Anasos that whenever they wanted to give charity, they should give it to undeserving people.

One could ask, why did Yirmiyahu curse the Jews? It would be hard to believe that he hate those Jews so much.

Rather, the world operates on the principle of Isarusa Dile'ela (an awakening from above) is dependent on an Isarusa Diletata (an awakening from below). Now the situation of the Jews of Anasos was hopeless. They didn't deserve to be saved. The only hope for them was supernal kindness not dependent on the merits of the recipients. Therefore, the only way to get such supernal kindness is through giving to people not deserving of kindness.

Now the Rebbe answered his question. Through the Chassid's giving charity to an undeserving person, he (the Chossid) will be saved even though he is undeserving.

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Nice, but I don't see how it answers the question. –  yydl Jan 1 '12 at 22:34
It may not answer the Halachic question, but it does seem that it answers the spiritual question of whether he gets the benefit of having given Tzedakah. –  Seth J Jan 1 '12 at 22:44
It also answers the halachic question that there is no mitzvah to give to someone who does not deserve it. –  avi Jan 2 '12 at 20:40

According to Rabbi Eli Teitelbaum ZATZAL the answer is that the Mitzva is not fulfilled.


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The Ben Ish Chai says that if one was under the assumption he was being mekayem a mitzvah and later finds out he wasnt he still gets schar for the mitzvah- this he says in the context of teffilin. however we have a klal in kiddushin "ein hakadosh baruch mitztaref machshava lemaaseh" that if one desired to me mekayem a mitzvah but was not succesful in it, he gets schar

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