Giving their father’s pledge
BY RABBI YITZI WEINER
This week’s Torah portion addresses the mitzvah to keep one’s pledges. The Torah writes that the Jewish people pledged that if they were victorious against the Amalekites they would donate all of the cities to Hashem. (Bamidbar, 21,2)
This brings us to the following question.
Sol Goldstein was a famous Holocaust survivor who lived in Chicago. He was well known for organizing the 1978 protest against a Nazi march in Skokie.
He also made a large pledge of more than a million dollars to the UJF, the United Jewish Federation, which he paid slowly, over time. When he passed away, there remained $666,000 of the pledge that was still still unpaid.
Sol’s children who inherited his estate refused to pay the remainder of the pledge.
They had different charitable priorities and did not want to give it to the UJF.
The children agreed to give the remaining amount to charity, but not the charity that their father chose. The UJF then brought suit, claiming that the pledge was to be regarded as a legally binding contract.
Where would you think the Torah’s position on this question would be? Should they be responsible to fulfill the father’s commitment or perhaps it is sufficient to just give the balance to any charity?
Was Sol’s pledge an obligation that his children are required to fulfill?