Mom, Missionaries, Money and Making Calls
B. from a college in New Jersey wrote:
My mother belongs to a missionary organization. Recently she contracted with a long distance telephone company to have a percentage of the savings on her long-distance phone bill donated to an elementary school run by the missionary organization. My question is, can I speak to my mother on the phone when she calls me, knowing that as I speak money is clinking into the coffers of a missionizing organization?
The Torah has very, very, strong words against all forms of missionary activity, and urges that action be taken to stop them if at all possible. I asked Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, shlita, about your particular case, which involves the sensitive issue of a child's relationship with his mother, and a basically passive role on behalf of the listener. Nevertheless, he said that it is absolutely forbidden to converse with her on the phone when she calls. Practically, you should call (or write) to your mom and tell her that you cannot receive calls from her while she has this service. If she still calls, then you will unfortunately have to hang up on her. As this is the Halacha, there is no conflict with kibud av v'em, (respect for mother and father).
However, no need to worry that non-Jews have a monopoly on "interesting" ways of collecting funds. I once heard about a Jew who was walking in an anti-Semitic part of town, where he noticed a poor Jew sitting on a bench holding out a cup asking for charity. On the next bench sat a priest who was asking for charity in the same manner. As locals passed by, they would make a point of putting a penny in the Jew's cup and then a dollar or even five dollars in the cup of the priest, laughing as they walked away. The Jewish man who was watching all of this approached the poor Jew and reproached him, "Don't you have any dignity! Look how they ridicule you! You're not even making any money!"
The poor Jew smiled, called over to the priest sitting on the next bench, and said, "You hear that Berel, this guy thinks we've got it all wrong."
- Devarim 13:7-12.