Friday, December 26, 2014

The Not-So-Non-Profit "Fourth Sector"

Your Holy Beggar may be a candidate to run ... no! to be one of these "hybrid" enterprises.

Remember, the whole premise of this blog is why not cut out the middleman, the nonprofit organization that would pay me a salary to beg for them ... when I can just beg for myself.

Perhaps I can be considered for the Nobel Prize in Economics!

But remember ...
No matter what ...
Don't forget to ask for the money.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Classy ... Classic Holy Beggar

Bravo to this gentleman and HONY's Brandon for capturing the true essence of Holy Beggarhood.

From the Humans of New York FaceBook page October 8, 2914

"I take my meds but I still have bad days. I know the moment I wake up if it's going to be a bad day. I'm really fidgety and distracted and resentful. I can't even sit out here on bad days. I get too resentful when people walk by and don't help. I know it doesn't make sense, and that I don't have a right to be resentful, but I still get angry. I can't keep a job because of the bad days. I just get too verbal when I'm agitated. I don't even realize I'm doing it. I realize it later. But when it's happening, I don't know it's happening. It's like when I'm in the picture, I can't see the picture."

But remember,
No matter what,
Don't forget to ask for the money.


Has The Holy Beggar come full circle?

Perhaps. You be the judge.

I recently did a pre-year-end accounting of my contributions and my gross income. I have had the urge to make more donations to outcomes-based (e.g. nonprofit) organizations, yet the significant reduction in my own income will really not allow it if I am to remain solvent.

So I thought that perhaps I should stand on a street corner and beg for donations to these nonprofits -- a generic receptacle promoted by a sign that says,

"Your extra change is NOT FOR ME ...
It's for public broadcasting ... the arts ... the enviornment ...
all 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations."

I will do just that and increase my tax-deductable donations.

But remember,
No matter what,
Don't forget to ask for the money.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Dan Pallotta's TED Talk -- The way we think about nonprofit organizations is dead wrong.

I couldn't say it better ...

 Here's the reading list :

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Guest Post: Rabbi David Lapin's "Charity vs. Investment"

Tzeddakah and Chessed are different. They produce different results.
Parshat Eikev 5774                                                                                                    © Rabbi David Lapin, 2014 Permission Granted
Tzeddakah Box
You know the story of The Giving Tree? It’s a charming children’s book [written by Shel Silverstein] about a lifetime’s relationship between a boy and an apple tree. The boy plays in the shade of an apple tree and climbs its branches. When he grows up and no longer wants to play, the tree gives him its apples so that he can sell them and earn money. Later, when the boy wants a house the tree offers him its branches with which to build a home and then its trunk with which to build a boat. Finally, the tree, having given the boy all of its resources, has nothing more to offer him other than the stub of its trunk on which to sit in his old age.
The idea of generosity that the book illustrates it is not the Jewish idea of generosity. The book teaches unconditional generosity, a Christian idea, not a Jewish one. 
The Torah differentiates between two distinct expressions of generosity: Generous donations to a cause or a person, and generous investment in the growth and development of others. Charity is tzedakkah; investment is chessed. Unconditional (and at times even anonymous) charity is generous. Unconditional investment is not.
The boy – and the world – would have benefitted more from the tree had the tree required that the boy replant some of its apple seeds and grows more trees. The tree could have insisted that the boy show gratitude and that he pays the tree’s kindness forward by showing similar kindness to others. This would have been a truly generous investment in another. As it is, the tree simply gave the boy charity and eventually depleted itself. Unconditional giving is not sustainable, which is why the Torah limits it to twenty percent of assets or income.
Investment in others, on the other hand, is not only sustainable it is regenerative and the Torah does not cap it. Olam chessed yibaneh: the world continues to be built and rebuilt through chessed – investment in others. Investors have expectations of those who benefit from their generosity; they expect growth and returns. Not only are these expectations legitimate, they also inspire the very growth and development that was the purpose of the investment to begin with.
In my last essay, “So What Now?”  I wrote about the attractiveness of matnat chinam. You will have noticed that I deliberately chose not to translate this idea as unconditional giving but rather as unearned giving. The reason is because matnat chinam is a gift given to someone not because they had previously done something to earn it but given to someone who has thus far done nothing at all to earn it. However, matnat chinam does not imply a gift with no expectation of gratitude or reciprocation in the future. That would be charity. Charity, a noble midah and necessary social responsibility, does not build society; it simply preserves society. Investment in others, and expecting reciprocal returns on that investment, actually builds a society.
The purpose of the Creation was not so that Hashem could provide us with unconditional charity. Unconditional charity is nahama de’kissufa, as Rabeinu Sa’adia Gaon terms it. Were we to be the recipients of free handouts we could not built our dignity and our stature; our journey on earth would be pointless.  Hashem created the world, the Gaon says, so that Hashem could invest in us expecting us to reciprocate with our Avodah (service) – serving Him and providing a service to one another. In this way we could earn His ultimate generosity in olam habbah and we would not experience it as undignified nahama de’kissufa.
This theme is emphasized over and over again in the Torah and specifically in the parsha. The parsha’s very name, Eikev, implies the conditionality of investment: You serve me properly and deal justly and kindly with others, I will continue to shower you and your land with abundant blessing.
Our nation is emerging out of a relatively peaceful era of some seventy years during the non-Jewish world, shamed by the holocaust tolerated us and the excellence of our accomplishments. Now we are starting to irritate the world again, and their irritation is erupting into flashes of vile anti-semitism not seen since the war. We cannot take God’s protection for granted; it is not an unconditional handout of charity. We have just experienced miracle after miracle in Israel, Hashem expects us to reciprocate with higher standards of avodah, limud Torah and service to others. Some of us can inspire this reciprocation on large scales, others can do it within themselves and their immediate spheres of influence. 

Whatever your capability, what are you doing to reciprocate to Hashem? What are you and I doing to earn God’s continuing protection and blessing as our nation moves into a new era of independence, accomplishment, influence and global resentment? How are we showing ever greater Hakkarat hatov (gratitude) to Hashem for our being given the opportunity to live in one of the most stunning eras of modern Jewish history?
The Giving Tree took more than it gave. It gave the boy shade, and apples and wood. But it took away his dignity and his potential to grow in the most important midah of all: Hakkarat hatov – gratitude, the very stuff of relationship (with God and with fellow men), kindness and society itself.

For more insights from Rabbi Lapin, see his iAwaken website. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


The tradition of joining the world-wide Jewish community commitment to study a page of the Babylonian Talmud (2,711 pages in total) a day in a 7.5 year-long in a specific cycle -- is called Daf YomiSince the custom, minhag, began in 1923, then the entire cycle has been completed 12 times; the last one ending August 2, 2012. The current one is due to be completed in January 2020. 

I've not done it even for a day, but I have been following Jacqueline Nicholls' "Draw Yomi" Project in which she not only participates in the reading, but also she draws images from the passages and offers a short commentary or note about its contents for a decidedly personal,  21st Century feminist eye. It is a bit haiku-ish in that it is not work that is over thought, but definitely impressionistic. We are who we are when we enter the current of the big river.

A prolific artist who lives in London, Nicholls' other works are mostly in the fiber arts that address women's role in Jewish rituals, exploring the forms and intentions of minhagim, traditions, and projecting them on to personal experiences of life cycles of the body and the peoplehood. 

Today, after catching up on her daily impressions, I explored once again her website and entered "rooms" of her many thematic projects. I was struck particularly by her "Kittel" project today. A kittel is a very simple garment that an observant man (usually) will wear at his wedding, funeral and on the annual days of yom kippur in between. It is white, full length and has sleeves. A perfect canvas for such an inspired, skillful artist.

Here is her thought about the “Dignity Kittel” ...

“I used to spend Christmas volunteering at a temporary homeless shelter in London that provided basic services and support. In amongst the medical and dental care, food, hairdressing, there was a large clothing section. The guests could choose an outfit, and my job was to make sure that these garments fitted them properly, so when they stepped out in their new suit, they looked smart and dignified. We were instructed to make sure that they didn’t look like they were wearing hand-me-downs. The shelter also supplied practical warm coats, but by ensuring that there were people there to make adjustments, they recognized that clothing doesn’t just provide protection against the elements."

We have an obligation to help recognize the inherent dignity of all Beggars, Holy or not. Thus, I’m posting this in two blogs: “Trads in Contempo Life” and “Holy Beggar”.

But remember,
No matter what,
Don't forget to ask for the money.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Want to Buy a Hole?

Copyright The New Yorker
I am not kidding that I view panhandlers as colleagues. Haven't you ever wanted to correct spelling or darkened the letters on a begging board  ... not to mention turn it right side up ... ?

Be truthful. There are so many ways to help our colleagues achieve their desired result: spare change.

This cartoon from The New Yorker is another example of what is at the heart of this blog's mission: to explore the fundamental, foundational essence of redistributing resources to effect a more  dynamic flow of a society's economic resources.

What is the difference between begging and crowd-funding?

Perhaps in the former, the hat is perceived as being empty; in the latter, the perception is that there is something "inside" to bloom out of that emptiness.

To fit the Kickstarter mold, the HB (Holy Beggar) might consider putting something to exchange to show appreciation ... perhaps a slip of paper or piece of string ... to show thanks. A few low denomination coins might be nice to enable contributors to make change if all they have is a $20 but would like to give $0.20.

On another note, an empty hat may be full enough. I have friends who had a huge  hole in their newly purchased rural land. It was not really empty, as it had  a foundation laid by the original owner who abandoned a project to build a structure. My friends thought that they could fill the hole with all sorts of refuse -- rotting wood, metal parts, etc. -- that was left from the original owner, but they soon realized that the hole was much more than the sum of available stuff, so they paid a lot of money for a contractor to fill the hole with dirt.

Now, I'm thinking that perhaps there was someone out there who needed a hole or a part of it so s/he could begin to build a lake, a swimming pool, skate park or a house, and so I wondered whether my friends could advertise its availability online, Craig's List, for example.

And remember,
No Matter What,
Don't Forget to Ask for the Money!