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The Top 5 Differences between charity and tzedakah: Day 4

#4 Not all charity is considered tzedakah

Ways to tell whether or not the money you are giving is tzedakah:

From the Babylonian Talmud, Chagigah 5a, taken from On1Foot: “It had been better that you had not given him, than now that you have given him publicly and put him to shame.”

Therefore, if the money you are giving to someone publicly humiliates someone, it might not count as tzedakah.

If the money you are giving is accompanied by you trying to act as a paternal savior—yeah, it might not count as tzedakah

And if the money you are giving is followed by you giving yourself a pat on the back and thinking that your work here is done…

Well, not only is that wrong, but it’s also not tzedakah.

Would it have been better to not give at all?



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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