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Ma'ot Chitim – "Wheat Money"

Ma'ot Chitim – "Wheat Money"

Donate to your local Passover charity fund!

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In the opening paragraph of the Haggadah recited at the Seder, we declare: "All who are hungry, let them come and eat." Our nation is a singular entity, and in order to experience freedom ourselves, we must also ensure that our brothers and sisters have the means to celebrate freedom too.

In reality, however, most of the people who are hungry will not be standing in our dining rooms as we begin our Seder, waiting for the invitation. As such, in preparation for the Passover holiday, it is age-old Jewish tradition to contribute generously towards funds that ensure that indeed everyone who is in need has the necessary provisions for the holiday—food, matzah, wine, festive clothing, etc.

This special Passover fund, originally intended to provide the poor with matzah, is known as ma'ot chitim, "the wheat fund," or kimcha d'pischa, "Passover flour."

Don't be left out of this centuries-old web of giving! Find a fund near you that helps the local needy and contribute generously. (According to Jewish law, when disbursing charity, the local needy are our first concern.) If you do not know of such an organization, contact your local Chabad rabbi, he will be happy to point you to a local fund or to personally direct your funds to needy families who will use them to celebrate Passover.

Don't be left out of this centuries-old web of giving!The collection of ma'ot chitim begins thirty days prior to the holiday,1 and the funds are distributed by the Shabbat preceding the holiday. If one has not yet given by then, one should anyways give, even up until the last moments before the onset of the holiday.2

And when you help others to celebrate a joyous holiday, G‑d will certainly reciprocate in kind, and grant you and yours a happy and kosher, a meaningful and liberating, holiday of Passover!


The Origins of Maot Chitim

The practice of Jewish communities collecting money to help the local poor cover the cost of matzah is already mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud,3 which was compiled more than 1,600 years ago. In more recent times, this fund was expanded to supply the poor with other holiday needs as well.4 This fund is in addition to the various other communal charities regularly distributed to the poor.

In times when every Jewish community had an organized board of directors and central charities that cared for the poor, donating to this Passover fund was mandatory upon all the city's Jewish residents.5 If one had regular business in a city other than his main residence, he was obligated to give in both towns. There is no set amount for this levy; every person was required to give according to his means.

Footnotes
1.

See Likutei Sichot, vol. 14 pg. 369. Others write that the collection begins immediately after Shabbat Parshat Hachodesh. (The Book of Our Heritage, Kitov)

2.

Hitva'aduyot 5750, vol. 3 pg. 52.

3.

Bava Batra 1:4.

4.

Likutei Sichot, ibid., pg. 370.

5.

Even if one was living in a city temporarily, if he spent there thirty days he is considered a resident with regards to this tax.
In Talmudic times, residency – with regard to this tax – was established after 12 months [unless the person planned on permanently settling in the city, in which case he acquired resident-status immediately]. Due to the persecution suffered by our people over the years, the number of people in need of charitable assistance grew drastically, creating a need to expand the pool of givers. (Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Orach Chaim 429:5.)

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morrie libman flushing, ny March 25, 2013

great web site! Reply

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