|When translated into English, the root "tzedakah" means
charity -- giving to those in need. Tzedakah is part of the 10
Commandments and holds a very high place in Judaism. Tzedakah
is derived from the Hebrew word tzade-dalet-qof, meaning righteous,
fair, or just. Giving or donating, in the Jewish religion is
not a generous act, but also considered to be a just act.
is a performance of duty.
In Jewish literature, the sages have said that tzedakah is
the highest of all commandments. In fact it is equal to all
other commandments combined. Tzedakah is what grants us forgiveness
from our sins. According to the Yom Kippur literature, a judgment
has been inscribed for those who have sinned. Repentance, prayer,
and tzedakah can reverse the decree.
Certain kinds of tzedakah are considered to be of greater merit
than others. Maimonides organized the different tzedakah into
a hierarchical list. From the least to most meritorious they
Giving less than you should, but giving cheerfully
Giving after being asked
Giving before being asked
Giving when you are unaware of the recipient's identity, but
the recipient is aware of yours
Giving when you are aware of the recipient's identity, yet you
Giving when neither party is aware of the other's identity
Enabling the recipient to become self reliant