Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

4 Sivan 5762 - May 15, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Observations: Too Good to be True or, a Warning to Collectors
by Y. B.

I was in the U.S. raising funds for a worthy cause. One day as I was about to leave a particular office in a well-known city, another solicitor (let's call him Berel) who was casually sitting there, stopped me and asked how my fundraising was going. He said, "I remember that you mentioned that you need a major backer."

I looked at him bewildered.

He said, "You don't remember me?"

"No, I'm sorry but I don't remember you. But if you say so, I guess I did," I responded.

"Well, do you know Ploni?"

"No," I answered.

"Let me have your number so he can contact you tonight. He may be helpful."

So I gave him my business card, which had my address and cell phone number clearly written out.

That night Ploni, Berel's friend, called. He asked about my budget, and said he would give a check for 55 percent of it. I thanked him wholeheartedly. He even said he would help make connections for additional amounts, with some very well-known names. I felt skeptical that such a phone conversation, without even meeting him, could take place, but what did I have to lose?

He told me he would give the check to Berel and Berel would come to where I was staying. "We will go to such and such a city for Shabbos, and I will make the connections for you with these other gvirim," he said.

I mentioned that I already had plans to be in a different city. And I had just left the city he had mentioned.

He said, "Don't worry, I will get you a ticket."

Then he asked me, "Do you have $4,000 in cash? There is someone who needs it for an operation. I'll add the additional $4,000 into my check for you, and you give the cash to Berel. Berel," he continued, "will take the money to a such and such city and hand it over to the mishpochoh there."

At this point I said, "You know, I was planning to go to that same city for Shabbos and could give it to them in person."

He did not respond.

I told him, "I don't know how much cash I have. I'll have to check."

He answered, "Do you have a credit card? If you don't have enough cash you can use your credit card to withdraw cash. Anyway, go home now to check and I'll call you in an hour."

After I returned to my host I counted my cash. It was not even half. As I was counting, it occurred to me that my desire to help someone in need had blinded me. Up to now I had gone to much trouble not to use up my cash and now I was just giving it away. My thinking became clearer. "What is going on here? Why should such an affluent man need to ask for $4,000? Why did he davka need cash? Wouldn't it look better for tax deductions to use a check? And if for some reason he needs cash, why doesn't he use his own credit card?"

When he called back, I told him, "I don't have anything near what you need."

He answered, "So give what you can."

"I am sorry, but I really want to hold on to the cash."

He responded, "So why didn't you tell me before?"

I apologized that I had changed my mind. He said, "Anyway, I'll send your check with Berel."

Despite the promising windfall that the next day had in store, I adhered to my previous plans and traveled to an adjacent city, spending the entire day there. I made sure that my cell phone was on the entire time. I returned that evening and remained a few more days in the first city where this incident occurred.

I never heard from Berel.

So far, that is the end of the story. I want to dan him lekaf zechus. Was he sincere? Did he lose my card, change his mind, or is he so busy that he just forgot about his offer? Or chas vesholom did something happen to him? Or, chas vesholom, was this merely a ruse to divest me of some cash? What do you think?


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