In this week’s Torah portion, the Torah discusses the mitzvah of giving charity “with a generous heart” (Shmos 25,2)
There is also an important mitzva to fulfill your pledges to charity.
How would you answer the following true story that discusses the commitment of a very generous philanthropist.
Mordechai Rubin was a very wealthy philanthropist. One day Shlomo, a needy member of the community came to him to ask for his help with a pressing family matter that required a substantial financial obligation. Mordechai had sympathy on Shlomo and gave him a check with a generous donation. Shlomo left thanking Mordechai profusely for his generosity.
Several weeks later Shlomo tried to deposit the check. Shlomo realized then that the number $300 was written in the number section of the check, however in the written section the words “three thousand dollars” were written. Shlomo tried to deposit $3000. The bank teller hesitated to deposit the check and passed it to the bank manager. The bank manager, who knew Mr. Rubin called him up to ask him which amount he intended to give to Shlomo. “Is it 300 or 3000. “You can decide now, how much do you want to give, Mr. Rubim” the bank manager told him.
That day Mr. Rubin’s cash flow was slightly more limited. He didn’t remember which amount he wanted to give. It was clear that he made an error, but he couldn’t remember if his error was that he left out a 0 in 3000, or wrote the word thousand instead of hundred. He preferred to give $300, but he didn’t want to renege on his commitment if he meant to donate $3000. Mordechai wondered if he is he obligated to give the larger number.
What do you think is Mordechai’s obligation?
What Natan did was forbidden and “wicked” but he would not have a legal obligation to pay anything. It would however be very commendable to pay for Shimon’s loss as a way of showing his remorse and trying to do teshuva. See Veharev Na (Hebrew Version) Page 287