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Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the late Rebbe of Lubavitch used to give out dollars to people who came to meet him. Why did he do this?

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As explained here on chabad.org:

The Rebbe, of righteous memory, stood for hours distributing dollars and blessings to thousands of people every Sunday, and on other occasions. The Rebbe’s intention was that the recipient should give the dollar to charity. In this way, explained the Rebbe, when two meet, it should benefit another.

Usually, instead of giving the actual dollar bill to charity, the recipient would keep it and give away another dollar in its place. I know it was a long time ago, but do you remember if you did that? If you do not remember, I would recommend giving a dollar to charity as soon as possible.

At the link it explains why this was specifically a crisp new dollar bill and why it was connected specifically to giving the blessings that many were asking for.

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    another point is the fact on U.S. money it says "in G-d we trust" which was another pint the Rebbe emphasized in addition to giving charity – Dude Nov 5 '15 at 18:30
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    1) is there any record of the Rebbe himself explaining so (or any other explanation)? There would be a grave halachic ramification; the recipient would be charged with giving the exact sum to charity. 2) if the purpose was to have a third party benefit why the need to distribute additional bills for non-present relatives of the individual meeting with the Rebbe? 3) per the reason for the crisp bills as indicated in the link, since that particular bill was usually kept by the recipient shouldn't it then be necessary for the recipient to likewise donate to charity a crisp bill? – Oliver Jan 16 '18 at 15:32
  • @Oliver, 1) numerous. e.g.. Sure it would, why not? BTW, in practice as soon as you walked out there was a line of people ready to help you with that obligation. 2) I assume to give the charity in their זכות. Regarding 3) I can't imagine why. – Yishai Jan 16 '18 at 16:18
  • @Yishai 1) IMO, this is a better source; thanks. In practice, since it was meant for charity the recipient was obligated to "forward" the sum to charity, yet the responder (in the link provided in your answer) only recommends this reimbursement (unless, he actually meant it's obligatory and t'was a poor choice of words). 2) this would also be a nice gesture but it appears to negate the reason that "a third party should benefit" since it was accomplished with the bills distributed to the present individual. 3) are you agreeing with me or you can't imagine why it would be necessary? – Oliver Jan 16 '18 at 16:30
  • @Oliver, when dealing with non-religious people, language like "obligatory" doesn't necessarily accomplish anything. I don't understand your point #2, the charity still benefits. Re point #3, I can't imagine why it would be necessary. – Yishai Jan 16 '18 at 16:52
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Interesting question!

I saw on one of the YouTube videos, just a few days ago. (I don't have access to them, now, but there is one that focuses on a short "biography" of the Rebbe). At the beginning, the narrator syas that the Rebbe gave the dollars so that you should give it to charity.

If you can't locate the "bio" video, look at almost any other video. There's one about a woman coming to the rebbe to ask for a bracha and to get a Hebrew name. In it, the Rebbe says to the woman, "give this for charity".

I am assuming that in keeping with the Rebbe's general outgoing caring philosophy, he felt that it wasn't just sufficient to "bless" the recipient by helping him / her alone. The person had to "spread the blessing" by helping someone else, and donating the dollar to a charitable cause was a way to do this.

Of course, many people I know, including myself, kept the dollar as a memento. Then, again, many of them just used a different dollar or equivalent amount for charity, anyway.

BTW - I mentioned to my wife and kids, recently, that the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l was the only Rebbe I knew that gave you money when you visited a rebbe. Usually, it was / still is the other way around :-)

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It was based on the saying of his father-in-law, the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, that when two people come together, they should bring blessing to a third. The idea of the dollar was that it should be given to tzedakah.

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משיח:מ=מחלק
ש=שטרות
י=ירוקים
ח=חינם

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    Welcome to Mi Yodeya. As noted answers here must accommodate those who only speak English. Also, I don't see how this answers the question of why anyone would do so. – mevaqesh Aug 6 '17 at 4:33

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