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Jarod Wolman - Dvar Torah

My Torah portion is called BeChuko-thai and it comes from the end of the third book of Torah called Leviticus. The reading contains three themes. They are reward and punishment, Curses and blessings and it also discusses different types of acts of kindness/charity.

The one I have chosen to talk about is charity, known in the Jewish religion as tzedakah. At the end of this week’s Torah portion, God tells Moses that the Israelites must give 10% of their belongings – money, property, land or animals- to God to make themselves holy. This 10% is known as a tithe. Charity is a fundamental part of the Jewish way of life and traditionally people should give at least ten percent of their income to charity.

Moses Maimonides says that there are eight degrees of the giving of tzedakah, each one higher than the one before.

[1] To give grudgingly, reluctantly, or with regret.

[2]To give less than one should, but with grace.

[3] To give what one should, but only after being asked.

[4] To give before one has asked.

[5] To give without knowing who will receive it, although the recipient knows the identity of the giver.

[6] To give without making known one’s identity.

[7] To give so that neither giver nor receiver knows the identity of the other.

[8] To help another to become self-supporting, by means of a gift, a loan, or by finding employment for the one in need.

I agree with Maimonides that if you give a person a fish, they will eat for a day. But if you teach a person how to fish, they will eat every day. Unless the fish don’t bite.

Charity means not only do you have to give money but you can also give your time, food, knowledge, skills to help people who are in need. You should give 10% of these gifts to the poor. Not only must the more wealthier people give 10% but the poor should also give a lesser percentage. According to the Torah, we ALL have a responsibility to give tzedakah.

Now that I am doing my bar mitzvah, I’ve got a responsibility to give at least 10% of either my skills, or time or money or knowledge to people in need. I feel happy to give tzedakah to other people now that I am a Jewish adult.

Shabbat Shalom

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