Tzedakah Themes & Theology

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The talmudic rabbis felt strongly about the spiritual significance of tzedakah, claiming that when one practices tzedakah and justice, it is as though he or she had filled the world with lovingkindness. One rabbinic teaching states that when a beggar stands before you asking for alms, you should know that the holy presence of God stands by the beggar’s side

Tzedakah is closely related to gemilut chasadim, which involves actions and commitment beyond mere financial gifts. It can mean donating one’s time and energy to helping others, such as reading for the blind, visiting in a hospital, or volunteering in a food bank. The Jewish tradition requires us to give something of ours, money and time, to those in need. It also recognizes that throughout our lives we will all be in need at various times, of financial assistance or simply of care throughout life’s challenges, and that providing such assistance is required of individuals and communities. In the theology of Judaism, all of our possessions, and even the time we are allotted on earth, are but a loan from the Creator. Therefore, when we engage in the commandment and duty of tzedakah (and the related category of gemilut chasadim), we are securing a more equitable distribution of God's gifts to humanity.

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