For once I am nearly speechless. I've written about tzedakah marketing campaigns centered around promises of miracles. I've written of tzedakah marketing that is simply obscene given the target audience. But this method of marketing will now top my list as the most tasteless and irresponsible of them all.
To promote tzedakah by guilting people about saving for retirement and creating mass panic about investments? Wow! I'm not quite sure what to say except that this is really low.
How can anyone possibly say with a straight face that the amount that Klal Yisrael (read: the frum community) places into retirement is "staggering" unless we are referring to staggeringly low? [Quote: "Let’s consider the net sum placed by Klal Yisroel in IRAs annually. It’s staggering.] You could say that a staggering amount is spent on tuition as well as debt servicing interest, cleaning help, camps, dating, weddings, sheitels, manicures, clothing, and even food. But retirement savings? No way, no how. I know highly paid professional couples that don't pay cash for their cars/minivans. Let's just say staggering[ly high] isn't the way I would describe the savings rate of the frum community!
A GUARANTEED INVESTMENT
I would like to suggest an excellent and fully guaranteed investment vehicle for this year’s IRA contribution. It’s called Klal Yisroel. It’s the oni who knocks at your door, it’s the local yeshiva that can’t pay their rabbeim, it’s the neighbors who can’t afford to make a wedding for their daughter, it’s the people in your community who have had their electricity shut off, it’s the many people facing eviction from their homes.
Let’s consider the net sum placed by Klal Yisroel in IRAs annually. It’s staggering. Can we collectively really afford to place that money in an investment that either will make or lose money, in an investment house that may or not be in existence when we retire? Is this prudent at a time like this? Can we find a better investment for our IRA? Permit me to present my suggestion:
Safety & Return: Hakadosh Boruch Hu Himself guarantees both the security of the
principal of our tzedakah investments, and a substantial return as well. To cite just one of numerous sources for this, the Torah tells us, “Aser te’aser es kol tevuas zarecha” (Devorim 14:22). Rashi tells us, “Aser bishvil shetisasher - Give tzedakah so that you become wealthy.” Rashi, with his ruach hakodesh, reveals for us the path to financial wealth. There are far more sources that can be cited to bring home the same point, but permit this one source to speak for them all.
Limits: We are free to invest as much as a chomesh, one fifth of our income, toward this guaranteed investment. “Beshuv Hashem” (Tehillim 126), once we have returned to seeing things with clarity, only then will we realize that “hoyinu kecholmim,” we were like dreamers. We were so wrapped up in our faith in the US banking system, which is weak, and the investment houses, many of whom failed and the rest of whom are weak, and had so much faith in the strength of America (uninvited guests dropping in on the President of the United States in the White House), that we completely lost sight of reality. Our faith was misplaced.
My friends, we’ve all been fooled. There is no stronger guarantee than the Torah, and no stronger Guarantor than Hakadosh Boruch Hu. Let’s begin by taking any
money we were going to place in IRAs this year and invest those dollars in alleviating the tzaar of Klal Yisroel. May I suggest we call the local yeshiva rather than waiting for them to call us? Let’s inquire whether the rabbeim and other staff members are up to date in their pay. Let’s take a deeper interest in the plight of the aniyim of our
community. Is there a local tzedakah fund that we can contact? Our rov probably knows which situations require the most immediate assistance. Let’s take a
deeper interest in aniyei Eretz Yisroel. The next time an oni knocks at our door, let’s try a little harder to focus on his plight.
Now, I’m not advocating a reckless abandonment of the US banking system. Rather, I’m suggesting that we place our IRA investments in a far better and more secure long-term investment, shoring up our more pressing needs right here in ouro wn Torah community.
These concepts are not new. Rather, they are the oldest and most proven concepts
in existence. Let’s be mechazeikeach other to reevaluate our priorities.
[Director of] Tomche Shabbos of Rockland County
Perhaps in response to the verses quoted I will quote birchat hamazon, "Please, Hashem, our G-d, make us not needful of the gifts of human hands nor of their loans -- but only of Your Hand that is full, open, holy, and generous, that we not feel inner shame or be humiliated for ever and ever." Yes, we have a lot of very pressing needs in our communities. And one of those pressing needs is financial stability.
Where will these families turn when they are no longer able to work? That's right! Us. And a note on the 20% rate we are allowed to give. There are many different opinions as to what ma'aser can be used for. Those that count tzedakah and tuition or partial tuition as ma'aser likely need not worry about hitting that 20%.
Trying to guilt people out of putting a little something away for their own future needs: Tasteless and irresponsible.
And with that note, a friendly reminder that you have until tax day 2010 to fund your IRA or ROTH IRA. In a recent post, the letter writer looking for solutions stated: "At this point, we need a lot of money just to get by, no matter how simply we live. We have children to feed and our expenses are only growing." If she only knew just how expensive older age can be she'd plotz. Having some hands-on knowledge about such things I will state unequivocally that we NEED community members to be saving for their future. Aging isn't inexpensive.