Tzedakah Essays & Insights

Charity in a Failing Economy
Giving charity is really not a luxury; it is a necessity for both the recipient and the donor. If we want to survive this recession, we need to survive it together...
Irrationality Met Its Match
Can you imagine? Someone feels the impact of a weak economy and responds by giving away more money? Does that make any sense?
The Myth of Charity
Do not be misled by the legendary philanthropy of the Jews, by their saturation of social and humanitarian movements, by their invention of the pushka, the meshulach and the UJA. Jews do not practice charity, and the concept is virtually nonexistent in Jewish tradition.
The Heresy of Kindness
They asked the Baal Shem Tov: "The Talmud tells us that for every thing G-d forbade, He provided us something permissible. What did He permit that corresponds to the sin of heresy?" Replied the Besht : "Acts of kindness"
Do You Get Charity?
Tests revealed that participants were wrong about the impact of money on happiness. A significant majority thought that personal spending would make them happier than pro-social spending...
A Wise Business Decision
"Here is a wise Jew, who understands that this is only an attempt to test him. He also understands that when he will withstand the test, not only will his business be as prosperous as beforehand, but it will be better than before..."
Cut Back!
Imagine a stock trader selling off his computers, a cab driver cutting back on gasoline purchase or a printer auctioning off his presses. You don't tamper with whatever is generating the income!
The Philanthropic Pauper
"Everyone is obligated to give charity. Even people supported by charity must contribute from what they receive." A law that seems radical on the one hand, and absurd on the other...
Count Down to Charity
The wealthy fellow politely explained how he would love to give but can’t, because he already gave his share of charity for the year . . .
MP3s and the Good Enough Revolution
Are you investing your life savings based on wikinformation? Are you treating a fatal condition based on a health blog you found? Are you calling a once-in-a-lifetime business contact on a VOIP line?
Is There Such A Thing As Too Much Charity?
What would you do if you had a fortune worth millions?
Millionaire Karl Rabeder decided to give it all away to charity, down to the last penny, or Euro. Would our world be healed if more people did the same? Hardly.
Charity: an Anthology
How to give, how to receive, what it means, what it does, the cosmic significance, a dialog with the moon, and ramblings on stress and love...
Healthy Give and Take
He held two backpacks, one full of sandwiches and the other money. He strolled down the aisle offering the patrons a choice: "If you have, please give. If you need, please take."
I Asked for Money
We arranged an appointment. I came prepared. I made my pitch, explained our plans, emphasized the opportunities that lay ahead and then paused. The pause. That time it didn't work.
You Only Own What You Give
"When the king asked me to disclose my holdings," the rabbi explained, "I included only the funds that I have donated to charity. Those are the holdings I know will always be mine..."
A Poor Man's Gift
Jewish wisdom sees the saving of physical life and the giving of spiritual life as two sides of the same coin of charity. To some we give dollars, to others we give sense.
Why did G‑d create a world with those who have resources and those who are in need? It could have been much simpler if G‑d just evenly distributed the resources to all.
So, at the risk of ending my career, I would like to share with you a wonderful piece of news: The world is becoming a very generous place. You want proof?
Smiles on Loan
The truest form of charity is to provide without discrimination. This means that we leave it to the poor to decide what is important and what is not.
Charity from the Heart
I have a confession. I can’t stand to be thanked for giving charity. I just hate it when the person to whom I gave a dollar heaps lifelong blessings on me.
Home Starts at Charity
With Parshat Shekalim we begin the process of preparing ourselves for the holiday season. The first step in this process is quite surprising . . .
Three Mistranslations
Teshuvah, tefillah and tzedakah commonly translate as "repentance," "prayer" and "charity." But these English words fail to express the full significance of these concepts, and even convey the very opposite of their true import
A World of Love
"It is not good," said G-d of the first and only human being, "for man to be alone." As long as man was alone, he could not really be good
The Cosmology of Giving
Do not be deceived by the apparent simplicity. This diagram depicts the conceptual framework underlying all of existence
The One Dollar Life
Open your wallet. Take out a single dollar bill. Place it on the table in front of you. Take a long, contemplative look at it. In many ways, this is the most spiritual thing you own
Eight Degrees of Giving
Preserving the dignity of the receiver is a cornerstone of mitzvah of charity: Maimonides lists eight levels of giving, correlating to the degree to which the giver is sensitive to the needs and feelings of the recipient
Giving Is Receiving
The Talmud states that everyone is obligated to give charity, including someone who is totally dependant on, and supported by a communal welfare fund. Isn't this a little absurd?
Whose Money Is It Anyway?
That question probably crossed the minds of millions of Americans as they scrambled to meet the tax-filing deadline last week...
The Man who Changed his Life
It's not very often that a person gets to see, printed in a newspaper, how he will be remembered after his death. One man did, and what he saw horrified him...
A Duck and a Duty
Do these people deserve my money? Since when does cash drift gently from leafy poplars? Even my pastry was a momentary weakness. As these uncharitable thoughts flash through my system, I suddenly recall my mallards . . .
Charity: A Wise Business Decision
"Here is a wise Jew, who understands that this is only an attempt to test him. He also understands that when he will withstand the test, not only will his business be as prosperous as beforehand, but it will be better than before..."
Asking Others for Money
A Yom Kippur Lesson
Here is where things are really upside down. We have this false illusion that when someone gives money to someone else, the giver is the big hero, the generous one, the amazing one. And that poor, pathetic receiver . . . should just be grateful that someone felt sorry enough for him to help . . .
The Glamorous Giver and the Disheveled Do-Gooder
At times, sharing opportunities may appear at our doorstep, neatly wrapped with a shining bow. At other times, the gift is hurled through an open window, perhaps during a thunderstorm at 3:00 AM. Perhaps when we least expected or wanted it...
How to Give
Charity, be it clear, is not vitiated by any motives. But a charitable person is not simply one who gives charity, but one who is charitable.
Tzedek: Justice and Compassion
The distribution of the word tzedek and its derivate tzedakah in the Five Books of Moses is anything but random.
Wise Charitable Giving
The Rebbe responds to a Charitable Foundation
In a series of letters, the Rebbe gives advice to a foundation on how to properly distribute funds for Jewish education.
The Bottomless Cup
A Purim Lesson
This woman is like a bottomless cup of coffee. I give, and she wants more, and I give more, and she’ll want even more. I sincerely do feel badly for her. But I am equally scared to let a person who is in chronic, desperate need become dependent on me . . .
Maaser - Tithing in Torah and Jewish Law
Maaser, giving one tenth part of something given to charity, appears often in the Torah. But how does tithing work, and what is its history?
Can the Rabbi Read Your Mind?
Think about your kitchen. Now, think about one word to describe it.
Related Topics