Each summer we focus on values that we can DO! At the J camps, all the children and the families get involved. There is a little learning, a little thinking and then a lot of doing! Get involved with us this summer. The value for this week is: tzedakah, the righteous way to give.
The Hebrew word “tzedakah” is often translated as “charity.” However, the word “charity” comes from a Latin word that refers to the love of one person for another. The word “tzedakah” comes from the word “tzedek,” which means righteous or just. In Judaism, we use the word that means the righteous way to give and we give to try to eliminate the injustice in the world.
Rabbi Moses Maimonides (the Rambam) believed that tzedakah is like a ladder and each step you climb brings you closer to Heaven.
•The person who gives reluctantly and with regret
•The person who gives graciously, but less than one should
•The person who gives what one should, but only after being asked
•The person who gives before being asked
•The person who gives without knowing to whom he or she gives, although the recipient knows the identity of the donor
•The person who gives without making his or her identity known
•The person who gives without knowing to whom he or she gives; the recipient does not know from whom he or she receives
•The person who helps another to become self-supporting by a gift or a loan or by finding employment for the recipient
Talk about these texts:
When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap the edges of your field. Also, do not gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not pick your vineyard bare or gather its fallen fruit. Leave them for the poor and for the stranger. I am Adonai, your G-d. — Leviticus 19:9-10
Even a poor person who lives on tzedakah should practice tzedakah. — Talmud
The person who gives only a little honestly earned money to tzedakah is better than the person who gives lots of money that has been gained through fraud. — Kohelet Rabbah 4
Have a family discussion and set up a tzedakah fund. Decide where to donate the money.
Volunteering is another way to help others. Find a place that your family could help.
Do something easy: Every time you shop, buy a few extra cans of food for the food bank, or simply clean out your closet and donate toys or clothes.
Do something ‘Jewish unplugged’
Every time you go shopping, buy something extra to give to the food bank. Make it a conscious decision — look for things needed and keep a box in a special place in your home.
Laura Seymour is director of camping services and Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.