What to do with collected money if purpose no longer relevent

 

If one collected charity for the cause of a certain person and the cause is no longer relevant, what is one to do with the money?[1]

If one collected money for a certain purpose and after the collection that purpose became no longer relevant, then it is disputed in Poskim as to whether the money must still be given to that person, or his inheritors in a case that he had already passed away.[2] Practically, the money is not to be given to the person or his inheritors.[3] [Rather, the money is to be returned to the donors.[4] Alternatively, if one is unable to return the money to the donors, the money is to be given to another person, towards the Mitzvah that it was collected for.[5] The above however only applies if the original purpose is definitively no longer relevant to have the money donated on its behalf, as in the examples given below, if however it is still possible that the money will be sued for the original purpose, then one must hold the money until the situation clarifies.[6]]

 

Examples:

  • One collected money for charity for an individual, and that individual passed away prior to receiving the funds?
  • One collected money for a captive and the captive either died or converted in captivity.[7]
  • One collected money for Hachnasas Kallah and the Kallah passed away.[8]
  • One collected money for a pauper and he became wealthy prior to receiving the funds.[9]
  • One collected money to purchase a pair of Tefillin for an individual and the individual was discovered to not be Jewish, or to already have a quality pair of Tefillin?


[1] 253/7

[2] Some Poskim [1st opinion in Michaber; Rashba; Ravayah] rule that even in the event that the cause for collection is no longer relevant, such as if money was collected to redeem a captive, and the captive died or converted to a different religion, then nevertheless the money must be given to him or his inheritors. The reason for this is because the money has already been acquired by the person for whom it was collected. Other Poskim [2nd opinion in Michaber; Rosh] however rule that the money is not to be given to the captive.

[3] Michaber ibid “And to this the mind leans in today’s times”; See Chasam Sofer 6/46; 237; Maharsham 3/297; Tzedaka Umishpat 9/7 [p. 164]

The reason: As we assess that the donors did not intend to have their money given to the person in such circumstances. [Michaber ibid]

[4] Tzedaka Umishpat 9/7 [p. 164]

[5] Mishpat Utzedaka 9/7 [p. 164]

[6] Mahariy Asad Yoreh Deah 309; Kesav Sofer Choshen Mishpat 42; Tzedaka Umishpat 9/7 [p. 164]

[7] Michaber ibid

[8] Rama ibid

[9] Tzedaka Umishpat 9/7 [p. 164]

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