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The Top 5 Differences between charity and tzedakah: Day 3

#3 Charity is voluntary; Tzedakah is compulsory

From the Jewish Virtual Library: “Hundreds of years later, the Talmud taught: ‘Tzedaka (sic) is equal to all the other commandments combined’ (Bava Bathra 9b). From Judaism’s perspective, therefore, one who gives tzedaka is acting justly; One who doesn’t, unjustly. And Jewish law views this lack of justice as not only mean­spirited but also illegal.”

Can you imagine being arrested for not giving tzedakah!? Do you really think giving tzedakah is equal to all the other commanments combined? Do you feel obligated to give tzedakah or do you feel like you do it because you want to do something good?


Sasha Feldstein is a program associate in the education and community engagement department at AJWS, where she manages WhereDoYouGive.org. Aside from wanting to be and play outside all of the time, she is interested in radical reconceptualizations of ancient traditions and in deeply exploring why we give, where we give, how we give and what it means to define giving tzedakah as pursuing justice. Sasha can be reached at sfeldstein@ajws.org.

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