1. You've received a fundraising call from a local frum institution and agree to donate $100. The individual on the phone directs you to the donation site to fill out the forms.
  2. After you get off the phone, you realize that they're fairly close to their overall goal and so you resolve to donate $200 to hit that big, round number.
  3. As you're filling out the donation form, you decide to refresh the webpage and see that they're only $160 from their goal, so you refill the form to finalize the donation for $160.

How does halacha consider the additional $40?

Even though you've fulfilled your verbal commitment to the fundraiser, tzedakah in the Talmud is linked to Kodshim vis a vis the impact of intent, where a mental declaration is sufficient to designate an animal for a korban. At the very least, one should be concerned that one's mental intent may constitute a declaration to donate a higher amount as "doing the right thing" (yashrus) if not actually obligatory.

But in this case, the desire to donate the higher amount was for the purpose of reaching a stated goal, and therefore might be considered neder al t'nai - a conditional vow.

Conversely, one might argue that the amount being al t'nai of hitting a certain goal is not the same thing as the donation itself being conditional, and that the process of filling out the donation form itself may constitute a commitment to donate the higher amount, even if you change the number before finalizing the donation.

  • If you are conceding that this isn't an halakhic issue, but one of yashrut, then it would probably be primarily opinion based. – mevaqesh Apr 28 '17 at 3:35
  • @mevaqesh I'm simply stating that it's unclear to me. It may very well be clear to someone with the proper sources. Regardless, one can clearly point to stories that provide guidelines for yashrus, so even then it's not primarily opinion based. – Isaac Kotlicky Apr 28 '17 at 3:41
  • Those stories will reflect the opinions of individuals; not Judaism itself. While perhaps it is possible to abstract a model of yashrut from a careful enough analysis of the spirit of Jewish law, it is probably impossible to answer definitely. This seems POB to me, as per your characterisation. – mevaqesh Apr 28 '17 at 3:52
  • @mevaqesh my characterization in which I state my uncertainty? That was put in the question predominantly to avoid nitpicks. – Isaac Kotlicky Apr 28 '17 at 10:08

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