#111 Tzedakah: Righteousness Through Charity

#111 Tzedakah: Righteousness Through Charity

In this lesson you will study the commandment of Tzedakah and the Jewish practice of making the world a more fair and just world. Giving Tzedakah is not an option, it is obligatory in Judaism. Why do you think it’s an obligation? Let’s explore together and learn about Maimonides levels of tzedakah.

#1 DEFINITION: Tzadakah

Tzedakah [tsedaˈka] צדקה‎ is a word meaning justice or righteousness but commonly used to signify charityhough it is a different concept than charity because tzedakah is an obligation and charity is typically understood as a spontaneous act of goodwill and a marker of generosity. It is based on the Hebrew word (צדק, Tzedek) meaning righteousnessfairness or justice, and it is related to the Hebrew word Tzadik meaning righteous as an adjective (or righteous individual as a noun in the form of a substantive). In Judaismtzedakah refers to the religious obligation to do what is right and just, which Judaism emphasizes are important parts of living a spiritual life.  Unlike philanthropy or charity, which is completely voluntary, tzedakah is seen as a religious obligation, which must be performed regardless of financial standing, and must even be performed by poor people. 


The Jewish sages taught that giving tzedaka was one of the greatest values and the Talmud contains guidelines for contributing tzedakah. Giving 1/10th of one’s income is average whereas giving 1/20th is considered miserly. How a person gives tzedakah is also important, for example, one should not give it in a way that would shame someone.

#3. WATCH – Where Do You Give?
Grades K-3

Grades 4-6


Moses Maimonides was a legendary Jewish philosopher in the Middle Ages. He listed Eight Levels of Giving, as written in the Mishneh TorahHilkhot matanot aniyim (“Laws about Giving to Poor People”), Chapter 10:7-14:

  1. Giving an interest-free loan to a person in need; forming a partnership with a person in need; giving a grant to a person in need; finding a job for a person in need; so long as that loan, grant, partnership, or job results in the person no longer living by relying upon others.
  2. Giving tzedakah anonymously to an unknown recipient via a person (or public fund) which is trustworthy, wise, and can perform acts of tzedakah with your money in a most impeccable fashion.
  3. Giving tzedakah anonymously to a known recipient.
  4. Giving tzedakah publicly to an unknown recipient.
  5. Giving tzedakah before being asked.
  6. Giving adequately after being asked.
  7. Giving willingly but inadequately.
  8. Giving “in sadness” (giving out of pity): It is thought that Maimonides was referring to giving because of the sad feelings one might have in seeing people in need (as opposed to giving because it is a religious obligation). Other translations say “Giving unwillingly.”

#5: WATCH : “All You’ve Got” by 8th Day


1. Why is tzedakah an obligatory commandment and not charity?
2. What is the English translation for tzedakah?
3. How does giving tzedakah make the world a better place?
4. Where do you give tzedakah? Why?
5. Is tzedakah an important value to you? Why?

Need some help?

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Also, at the end of the session, remember to review your responses in your Tamid Workbook so you can get credit for this lesson. Behatzlacha (Hebrew for good luck)!

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