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Whenever I have gone to Israel, people have given me "shlichut / mitzvah" money to donate at the Kotel.

Usually, I get to the Kotel, but, I don't always have time to do this, if I'm on a very short trip.

Some questions about this practice:

  • What's the origin of this minhag?
  • What's its purpose? Is the possession of this money supposed to act as a sort of "protection" that you will arrive in Israel safely?
  • I gather that the giver makes you a shaliach and he specifically requests that you give it to someone at the kotel. Does this mean that I fyou donate it to someone else outside the kotel, you haven't fulfilled the giver's command? So, what should you do? Donate it, elsewhere, or return the money back to the giver?