Take the 2-minute tour ×
Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have seen several Tzedaka organizations calling themselves something like "Colel Chabad (or Kupas Ha'Ir) Rabbi Meir Baal Haness Charity".

What does it mean that it is a "Rabbi Meir Baal Haness" charity and what does an organization have to do to get such a title?

share|improve this question
    
That site makes it sounds like the Alter Rebbe was an accountant! –  Double AA May 7 '12 at 16:43
1  
@isaac, it's not only a chabad thing. I am almost sure there are non-chabad tzedakas going under the "Rabbi Meir" name –  Shmuel Brin May 7 '12 at 16:46
1  
@ShmuelBrin, Fair enough, given your edit. –  Isaac Moses May 7 '12 at 17:00
add comment

2 Answers 2

This is derived from the famous story about the Roman guard being saved after invoking R' Meir's merit (Avoda Zara 18a,b). The Medrash Talpiyot writes that someone who lost something should promise to donate some money for lamp oil for the merit of R' Meir's soul. The Chida also cites the custom to donate oil or money for the merit of R' Meir's soul when someone is in any sort of distress. He adds that the person would also recite the prayer of the Roman guard: "Elaka d'Rabbi Meir aneini." The Chida cites the Rama miPano that the supplicant's intention should simply be that he accedes to whatever the lofty intentions were behind R' Meir's own prayer to the Almighty.

Beginning over two hundred years ago, charitable organizations, particularly those benefiting the poor and scholars in the Land of Israel, began to spring up under the name of "Rabbi Meir Ba'al Haness." This includes a well known Jerusalem charity founded in 1860 by R' Shmuel Salant. Since then, it has become popular to start charitable organizations under that name. These organizations typically cite the Talmud's story about R' Meir and assure people that they will be saved from trouble or find lost objects if they donate to that organization, possibly with the additional requirement of reciting a formula including the Roman guard's prayer and a Midrashic teaching (B'reishis Rabba, 53:14) about finding hidden things (e.g., see here).

In reality, an organization that decides to name itself something like "Rabbi Meir Baal Haness" does not automatically acquire a superior claim to the segula described in the first paragraph.

share|improve this answer
1  
Fred, thanks for this answer! Do you have a source you can cite for your points about history and the contemporary charity scene? –  Isaac Moses May 7 '12 at 18:25
1  
Both these links say that the segula is to give charity to the poor in eretz yisroel in his merit. Any organization that does that is a R' Meir Bal Haness organization. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbi_Meir#Legend and rabbimeirbaalhaneis.com/history_rmbh.asp –  Menachem May 7 '12 at 18:36
2  
@Menachem, can you find a reliable source for this that is not Wikipedia or one of the charities themselves (preferably dating back more than 200 years)? Everyone has heard of this, but perhaps it is only because these tzedakas keep saying this. (I'm referring to the claim in your first sentence). –  Fred May 7 '12 at 19:07
1  
In Keter Shem Tov HaShalem it is quoted in the name of the Baal Shem Tov that pledging to a Beit HaKnesset in the name of R' Meir can miraculously save someone. - hebrewbooks.org/… - not just in Israel. –  Menachem May 7 '12 at 19:58
2  
It is a common mistake to refer R.Meir Baal Haness as the Tanna R.Meir. The sefer Seder Hadoros quotes the sefer Gelillos Eretz Yisroel that R. Meir Baal Haness is buried in Gush Chalav, and he doesn't know who he was. R. Meir the Tanna is buried in T'veryah and every knows who he was. –  user1543 May 29 '12 at 15:24
show 6 more comments

According to this website (an internet portal for a self-named Rebbi Meir Ba'al HaNes charity, FWIW),

"There is a Minhag (custom) to give Tzedakah (Charity) to the Tzedakah of Rabbi Meyer Baal Haness when one is in a situation of any need or distress. This custom has its roots in the Talmud. Prior to Rabbi Meyer Baal Haness's passing he observed the terrible situation that resulted from the hunger in Eretz Yisrael. He proclaimed that he would intercede for whoever would give Tzedakah for his Neshamah, and the money should be distributed to the poor of Eretz Yisrael."

It would seem from there that any charity that distributes funds to the needy of Eretz Yisrael has self-interest in naming should name itself "Rebbi Meir Ba'al HaNes".

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.