If I fill out an online submission form for charity, including the amount I wish to contribute, and then before I click submit I decide I don't want to give the money, is that considered reneging on a pledge to charity?

I suppose the same could be asked about if I fill out a check and then change my mind before I mail it.

  • Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 62:16 seems relevant.
    – Yishai
    Jul 17 '14 at 19:03
  • @Yishai That would apply, but the laws of tzedakah involve nedarim, which are much more stringent. What the kitzur advocates there is a middas chasidus - to hold oneself to the same standard in business dealings... Jul 17 '14 at 22:38

Yes. It is considered reneging on a pledge. In fact, as soon as one decides mentally that he will make a gift to charity, he must do so.

Rema YD 258:13 says:

הגה: אם חשב בלבו ליתן איזה דבר לצדקה חייב לקיים מחשבתו ואין צריך אמירה אלא דאם אמר היו כופין אותו לקיים (מרדכי פ"ק דקדושין ובפ"ק דב"ב ובהגהות ובמהרי"ק שורש קפ"ה ומה"ר פרץ ובהגהות סמ"ק ורא"ש פ"ק דתענית) וי"א דאם לא הוציא בפיו אינו כלום (הרא"ש כלל י"ג) והעיקר כסברא הראשונה (ועיין בחושן המשפט סי' רי"ב):

My loose translation: If one thought in his heart to give something to charity he must fulfill his thought, and we do not require him saying it, except that if he says it we [can] force him to fulfill. And some say if he did not say it, it is nothing. And the primary view is like the first opinion.

By the way, I recall a YU rabbi (I forgot which one) specifically mentioning your case of the check which was not yet mailed, and him saying that he must give the money.

As always ask a Rabbi.

  • +1. One could, I suppose, have in mind while filling out the Internet form that he is undecided about whether to donate, and that he's filling in the form toward the possibility that he'll decide to do so. Perhaps (I'm guessing here) that wouldn't count as "חשב בלבו ליתן".
    – msh210
    Jul 18 '14 at 7:22

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