After reading some of the comments from the first post, my friend wanted me to post the following reply. :
First of all, the sad fact is that many orthodox Jews refuse to give charity to non-Jews. They make excuses and say that until all the Jews in the whole world are taken care of, why should we help non-Jews. So I think Rav Hirsch's comments are very important to note. Also, some orthodox Jews will still claim that there really is not a strong obligation to give to non- Jews, they are clearly wrong and misinformed. They say it is a priority to give to Jews, which is true, but they use this as a rationale to exclude all others. How sad and how untrue this is to the Torah!
As to the subway panhandler, Rav Hirsch says " Never turn a poor man empty away, even if it be only a scrap of bread you give him." To me the word "Never" is quite clear and categorical. There are no exceptions for times when we suspect he might use the money for other things. Nor does the MTA and their cold-hearted signs discouraging us from giving to homeless people take precedence over the Torah. If we don't want to give it is easy to find an excuse and to rationalize.
Remember, when Avraham Avinu saw three strangers in the desert? He literally ran to help them. He did not ask questions. He did not make inquiries. He did not suspect them of not really needing help. He did not make excuses as to why he has no obligation to help them. No. Indeed, he ran to them, despite the fact that he was 99 years old and in great pain from his recent bris. He literally ran to help them and to do acts of kindness. He left the presence of Hashem who was visiting him in order to do an act of kindness for three complete strangers. Well, we all know the story of who those "strangers" really were. This is what it is to be a Jew. It is to do acts of kindness and love that are unconditional and with a cheerful heart and with eagerness and zest and not to make excuses or ask all sorts of questions before we help.