Jewish Giving: Then and Now

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ShowImage.ashxWhat is an ideal Jewish society? One in which giving is unnecessary? In which giving comes naturally? If a society is truly ideal, then tzedaka (righteous giving) should be unnecessary because there shall be no needy: “There shall be no needy among you…” (Deuteronomy 15:1) But not even Deuteronomy – with its endless directives preparing the Israelites to enter the Promised Land – really believes in such a perfect society: “If, however, there is a needy person among you, one of your kinsmen in any of your settlements in the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your needy kinsman. Rather, you must open your hand and you shall surely lend him sufficient for whatever he needs… For there will never cease to be needy ones in your land…” (Deut. 15:4-11).

An ideal society, then, is one in which giving is so communally regulated that levels of giving always respond fully to the needs of the poor. The reality of human selfishness is balanced by an embrace of the absolute value of giving. Isn’t this kind of sacred balance the definition of Jewish community? Given the inescapable nature of human need, God demands a meta-human response.


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Posted by on Friday, September 6th, 2013. Filed under Jewish News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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