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    Charity during prayer – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. On weekday mornings I am bothered when charity collectors come round during the service wanting donations. What right do they have to disturb people like this?

    A. It is a common experience and a nuisance.

    Yet though the collectors do not always conduct themselves with proper dignity and respect, they enable us to fulfil a tradition which Maimonides records in these words: “The great sages would give a coin to the poor before reciting their prayer, as it is said: ‘As for me, I shall behold Your presence in righteousness’ (Psalm 17:15)” (Laws of the Poor, 10:15).

    The Psalm implies that our prayers must be accompanied by righteous deeds including charity.

    However, the collectors should not burst in and force themselves on our attention, especially during the Amidah, or wave pieces of paper, presumably their credentials, in front of people’s faces.

    Most synagogues have charity boxes into which the congregation can place donations.

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