Monday, May 24, 2010

The eight levels of Tsedaka

Today is the 11th of Sivan 5770

Tsedaka is usually translated as “charity” but in its Hebrew original Tsedaka means “justice” or “the practice of social justice”. Tsedaka is one of the foundations of Judaism and a Mitzvah practiced by all.
When a Jew attends a Minyan every day, he has the opportunity to do Tsedaka by giving a small amount of money during vaibarekh David in the Tefila of Shacharit, when we mention veata moshel bakol, that “You, God, are the one that rules over everything”. Including whatever money I will have at the end of the day. We believe that despite our efforts, it is God who is ultimately in charge of the final balance of our banks accounts, because He is the one that can bring upon so many variables, beyond our predictions, to increase or decrease our final balance.
But, is giving a dollar bill or 3 quarters the only form of perfomring the Mitzvah of Tsedaka?
There many ways of doing Tsedaka. In his Laws of Tsedaka Matanot Aniyim Maimonides enumerates eight levels of Tsedaka.
The first level -the highest- is when one offers someone a job or a loan. By giving a job we are avoiding from a person to depend on charity and he is able to earn money by his own means. Giving a job is doing Tsedaka without causing embarrassment. Tsedaka with dignity for both!

“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime