Tzedakah … The texts that lay out the laws of slavery are not entirely consistent. This egalitarianism was concretized by the periodic cancellation of debts, the freeing of those who have sold themselves into servitude, and the restoration of land sold to pay off debts. In the Torah’s system, those who prospered were reminded of their social obligations as part of the rhythm of daily commerce, the turn of the seasons, and the cycles of years. Most of these tithes went to support the priests and Levites, who owned no land of their own. Posted on July 29, 2009. Level: Intermediate. Tzedakah is about bringing justice to the world. How much should one give? Ask yourself the following would you rather questions questions: Would you rather... Buy a new jacket in a charity shop for £5 or a new jacket… This week the Torah portion is Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20) and the haftarah is Isaiah 61:10-63:9). Even the poorest Jews, those who need help themselves, are expected to put aside something from what they receive in order to give tzedakah. We use cookies to improve your experience on our site and bring you ads that might interest you. Excerpted from Essential Judaism: A Complete Guide to Beliefs, Customs, and Rituals, published by Pocket Books. A work printed a few years ago in Yerushalayim by Rabbi Avrohom Moshe Zemmel, entitled “Ahavas Tzedakah,” provides us with a number of answers. Leviticus expresses it in the statement that all Israelites are “slaves” to God. Tags: second Isaiah, tzedakah Every week of the year has its own Torah portion (a reading from the first five books of the Bible) and its own haftarah (an accompanying reading from the books of the prophets). Running through many aspects of these laws is a fundamental egalitarianism. This practice parallels the sabbatical of the land, as well as the jubilee year, during which almost all land was returned to its original family owners if they had sold it (presumably to stave off poverty). Before we can talk too much about ways kids can give tzedakah, we have to clarify what tzedakah is. Only in Daniel 4:24 is the word tzidka (the same consonants as tzedakah) used to refer particularly to concern for the poor. Loans. The Torah recognizes loans not for commercial development but to support those in need. Tzedakah: Charity. Our duty to society, both as Jews and as human beings, and our obligation to those less fortunate are of great significance to us. Sustaining them is in some sense the only way the community of Israel can repay God for the blessing of bounty. The laws reflect a tension between dealing with immediate need—“for the poor shall never cease from the land”—and the ideal of “there shall no needy among you.” Both statements, in fact, appear in the same chapter, Deuteronomy 15. As a people whose mark is chesed (see T.B. Alternatively, they may volunteer at a school field trip for 540 minutes (9 hours). There was the seventh year, when debts were cancelled. One cannot decide for oneself to what degree the increase in Torah and tzedakah will be practical and attainable. He alone truly fulfilled the Torah of Moses and gave Himself as a sacrificial offering upon the cross at Moriah to save the world from the wrath of God (2 Cor. (If making a donation would impair the impecunious Jew’s ability to sustain himself, he is absolved from giving. A Happy and Healthy Purim to all!-5-Rabbi Yosef Goldberg – Bayswater, NY The Hebrew has its root in another word, tzedek/justice.In the Torah we are strongly enjoined, “Tzedek, tsedek tirdof/Justice, justice thou shalt pursue.”Rabbinical commentators have said that the repetition of the word justice is designed to underline the importance of the command. The form tzedakah occurs predominantly in later biblical compositions—mostly in Second Isaiah, Ezekiel, Psalms, and Proverbs—where it means justice or integrity. Together, the two statements of the law of the Hebrew slave set up a parallel between God’s treatment of Israel and Israel’s treatment of those in the community who are poor. "Greater is tzedakah than all the sacrifices" – Talmud, Sukkah 49b. Judaism emphasizes that Tzedakah … Therefore, the Torah sets out its programme of tzedakah in great detail in terms of an agrarian order. The Torah says to give 10 percent of our earnings to people in need, based on Leviticus 25:35 and Deut. Tips for picking the right present for this Jewish rite of passage. A class decorates pillowcases for children in nearby hospitals. A child raises funds for impoverished families in Israel. It is forbidden to turn away a poor person empty-handed, but if one truly cannot give, a Jew is expected to at least offer words of comfort. By Rabbi Jonathan Spira-Savett In the Torah's detailed code of law in Exodus The word "tzedakah" is derived from the Hebrew root Tzadei-Dalet-Qof, meaning righteousness, justice or fairness. The Torah claims "there will never cease to be needy ones in your land" (Deuteronomy 15:11) (United Jewish Communities 2004). God and Israel each participate in making the land productive and prosperous. Along these same lines, the Jewish community has a long tradition of establishing philanthropic organizations, ranging from burial societies to organizations like the Hebrew Free Loan Society, which gives interest-free loans to the needy, from funds to provide hospitality to wayfaring strangers to the traditional Passover funds to buy matzah and wine for poor Jews. Why it's imperative to fight slavery even though the Torah tolerates it. A creditor was forbidden to enter a debtor’s home to take a pledge. The doctrine of pikuach nefesh [“saving a life”] applies here: he must not endanger his life to perform this mitzvah.) Relations with the Hungry, Tzedakah & Welfare Reform. Every town in which there is a Jewish community is required halakhically [by Jewish law] to have a charity fund that can disburse monies that cover a week’s needs of a poor family. Tzedakah (Hebrew : צדקה), meaning charity, refers to the religious obligation of the Jewish pepole to perform charity and philanthropic acts.The word Tzedakah is based on the Hebrew word Tzedek which means righteousness or justice. 5:19; John 3:36). In its details, biblical law concerning assistance for the poor deals primarily with four situations: the harvest in the field, the threshing floor, loans, and indentured servitude. Rabbi Benjamin Hecht . The Embodied Torah of our Connection with the Earth (8) The Embodied Torah of Peace (4) The Embodied Torah of Wonder (3) Theology – The Thought that Drives our Practice (60) Tzedakah/Gemilut Hasadim – The Embodied Torah of Giving (9) Tzedek – The embodied Torah of Justice (5) Archives This week we are going to be learning about Tzedakah and thinking about different types of charities and which ones you could support as part of your Bar/Bat Mitzvah. The Bible backed up its exhortations to assist the poor with laws and practices that gave poor people a claim to a share of society’s wealth. In the Torah’s detailed code of law in Exodus, the very first law describes the case of the “Hebrew slave”—a man who has to sell himself into indentured servitude because of poverty or debt. However, it is more than just giving money. Sign up for a night of Jewish entertainment on Dec. 24, Essential Judaism: A Complete Guide to Beliefs, Customs, and Rituals, How to Treat Jewish Holy Books (Sifrei Kodesh). In the Mishnah Torah, one of the most important works in Judaism, Rambam organized the different levels of tzedakah (צדקה), or charity, into a list from the least to the most honorable. God, who is identified at the beginning of the Ten Commandments as the One “Who brought you out… from the house of slaves,” defines Israel as the people who liberate their own debt-slaves and sustain them in their freedom. In ancient times, the Hebrew Torah was intended for a primarily agricultural economy and addressed the tzedakah in agrarian terms. In the rabbinic interpretation of the biblical rules, ten percent of each harvest was to be given to the Levites (ma’aser, the original tithe), and five percent to the priests (t’rumah). However, the nature of tzedakah is very different from the idea of charity. It is bigger than the sacrifices, Lending is strictly regulated in the Torah. (Maimonides enumerated a “ladder” of tzedakah with eight degrees of charity on it.) Parsha Summary Haftorah Summary Haftorah Commentary Legacy Drasha – R. Mordechai Kamenetzky Parsha Insights – R. Yisroel Ciner Kol HaKollel Dvar Torah Lifeline Edutainment Weekly The Living Law Rabbi Wein Table Talk Thinking Outside the Box Parsha Insights In the Torah we are strongly enjoined, “Tzedek, tsedek tirdof/Justice, justice thou shalt pursue.” Rabbinical commentators have said that the repetition of the word justice is designed to underline the importance of the command. This is called Ma'aser, literally "one tenth" (hence the English word "tithe"). The same form, tzedek, is used to describe measures and weights that are honest and fair in commerce. Israel is expected to acknowledge God’s faithfulness by reserving a portion of that prosperity for the most vulnerable. 15:7-8. But that poor Jew’s tiny donation is as great as the large donation of the wealthiest. "Tzedakah and acts of kindness are the equivalent of all the mitzvot of the Torah" – Jerusalem Talmud, Pe'ah 1:1. The Hebrew has its root in another word, tzedek/justice. The greatest of Jewish leaders and prophets. Pronunced: TORE-uh, Origin: Hebrew, the Five Books of Moses. This is colloquially called tzedakah (charity), which Maimonides lists charity as one of the 613 mitzvahs. Through each act of love, they help build a brighter tomorrow. If a farmer or his workers missed a section of the field during harvesting, they could not go back and pick it (the rabbis later termed this obligation shikh’chah, “forgetting”). A creditor was forbidden from seizing as collateral tools necessary for the debtor’s livelihood. Tzedakah (charity) is one of the pillars on which the world rests. When grain and fruit were brought in from the harvest, various tithes and offerings were mandated. This concept of "charity" differs from the modern Western understanding of "charity." This shabbaton (sabbatical year) not only would allow the earth to regenerate itself, but would, to a degree, put the entire community on an equal footing. Give tzedakah to the needy, Torah schools, Jewish institutions, and humanitarian causes. Pronounced: TALL-mud, Origin: Hebrew, the set of teachings and commentaries on the Torah that form the basis for Jewish law. The word "charity" suggests benevolence and generosity, a magnanimous act by the wealthy and powerful for the benefit of the poor and needy. especially in moments when a person’s poverty is most evident. The only difference between the two words is the Hebrew letter "hey", which represents the Divine name. In all cases, the law requires that the servant be freed eventually–after six years (Exodus and Deuteronomy), at the jubilee (Leviticus), or when a family “redeemer” can pay off the slave’s debt. 1. Indentured servitude. Everyone is required to give tzedakah according to her means. During years three and six of the seven-year sabbatical cycle, this tithe was to be put to use locally, set aside for Levites, strangers, widows and orphans. There was the Jubilee in which ancestral lands returned to their original owners. Even when the Torah recognizes the reality of their being rich and poor, it insists that each person be treated with dignity and justice. Giving tzedakah is the right thing to do, the righteous thing to do. Teshuvah and Tzedakah in the Torah Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik Zt”l suggests that the Torah itself provides a source for the role of tzedakah in the teshuvah process and in moderating negative decrees. The Talmudic sages urged even the scholar to take on menial labor rather than become a burden to the community, and many of them were laborers themselves. Traditional Jewish homes commonly have a box for collecting coins for the poor, and coins are routinely placed in the box. Only afterwards does the Torah command us to observe shmitat kesafim – a loan which is not paid back – and tzedakah, which one donates with the a … The Torah does not talk about giving charity as such, instead it offers the following instruction in relation to the harvest: Leviticus 23: 22 It accelerates the Redemption, 2. My Jewish Learning is a not-for-profit and relies on your help. In addition to these rules, which applied to every year’s harvest, every seventh year the entire Land of Israel was to be left fallow. In Jewish thought, justice isn't merely about how things work, but how they ought to be. Pronounced: ah-doe-NYE, Origin: Hebrew, a name for God. The focal provision of the law is the obligation of the owner to release the slave at the end of six years. Tzedakah [ts(e)daˈka] (Hebrew: צדקה ‎) is a Hebrew word meaning "righteousness", but commonly used to signify charity. In the field. Tzedakah is also seen as one of the three acts that gain forgiveness from sins. Actually, the Talmud says that the latter is greater in three ways: charity can be performed only with one’s money, but acts of lovingkindness require one’s body, time, or money; charity is only for the poor, but one can perform gemilut hasidim for everyone; and charity can only be given to the living, but gemilut hasidim is for the living and the dead (as in the mitzvot associated with burial). In Deuteronomy, the law is elaborated and revised–the owner must “pile him up” with food and flocks as he goes free. For this reason the guidance of the Rav/Mashpia will be of invaluable help. Normally, a second tithe was reserved to be brought to Jerusalem and eaten during a pilgrimage celebration. The purpose (and the condition) of what the Torah calls beracha (prosperity from God; literally “blessing”) is that beracha be shared widely. There are legions of stories about the prophet Elijah who comes to us in the guise of a homeless beggar on the street. 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