The “Money Crusade”

[Newspaper Interview]

Q: What is the Halachic position on accepting contributions from Christian institutions and individuals?
A: First of all, you must realize that we don’t have to accept money from non-Jews – Christians or others. The Talmud likens the acceptance of such contributions to eating pork, because it profanes G-d’s name. To be a beggar, to be a Shnorrer, is a very degrading thing, and even more so when you’re being supported by money from non-Jews. What kind of thing is that to have the non-Jews support us? Can’t we manage by ourselves? Figure it this way: All the money from all the various organizations of the non-Jews doesn’t equal a half day of the State of Israel’s annual budget. True, after the State was established the economic situation was terrible – but even then it was degrading to accept money. But today, our country is wealthy. Imagine a wealthy person standing in the Kotel Plaza begging for money! If a wealthy Jewish country accepts money from non-Jews, the profanation of G-d’s name is even greater.
As far as Christian organizations go, the problem is even worse. Since the beginning of [their] history, the Christians have been trying to wipe us out. They tried to kill us but they failed. Then they tried to disperse us and to banish us, but we’re still around.
They tried to hurt us economically, but didn’t succeed. They tried to degrade and humiliate us, but here we are.
What’s happening now is being described in the Christian literature as the “Money Crusade”, as if to say, “With the help of money, we’ll wipe them out.” They sum it up with two words, “Hug and Strangle”. By giving us money they’ll become our friends. That will enable them to increase their missionary influence. In Israel there are tens of thousands of missionaries, with a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars. That doesn’t mean, of course, that the person who accepts their money is destined to convert, but monetary gifts open doors for them. It gives them a ticket into Israeli society, which better enables them to trap Israelis through their missions. Maran Ha-Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohain Kook already wrote (Igrot Re’eiyah 4:61) that one cannot accept money from Christians when the one who’s going to pay for it is another Jew who will convert to Christianity. That’s simply immoral. The greatest rabbis have forbidden us to accept Christian money: the Chief Rabbinate, Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Avraham Shapira ztz”l, Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Mordechai Eliyahu ztz”l, the rabbinical court of Chabad, the rabbinical court of the Eda Ha-Charedit in Meah She’arim, and more.
Q: What about the claim that Jewish lives depend on that money?
A: In the State of Israel, there is nobody dying of hunger. To claim otherwise is wrong. It’s straightforward libel against the Jewish People. When someone is in economic distress, money can be attained for him. The welfare services pass along tens of billions of Shekalim.
There are also many legitimate free-loan societies and charities.
I know of one charitable institution that, inter alia, accepts Christian money. Eighty percent of the contributions they receive line the pockets of the fund’s administrators. They talk all nice about how they’re receiving donations for poor, downtrodden people, but the money is going straight to their own pockets. G-d have mercy on them and may He help them to repent.
When the “Ateret Cohanim” yeshiva was founded thirty years ago, an affable American approached me and asked if we were building the Temple. I answered “No”. He then asked, “But you do want the Temple to be built, don’t you?” and I answered, “We certainly want it to be built! Who doesn’t?” He then asked, “And what are you doing to advance it?” I answered that we study Torah and seek to refine our character. Then he said, “I am willing to organize a donation for you from the Evangelical Protestants in the amount of fifty million dollars a year. Do you agree?” I gave him a one-word answer: No. I lost fifty million dollars times thirty years: 1.5 billion dollars.
But I have no regrets.