Monday, September 25, 2023
A central aspect to both the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur prayers is that we say teshuva, tefila, and tzedakah – repentance, prayer, and charity – are the keys to ripping up the evil decree. I would like to focus on charity and try to provide a formula that will enable everyone to be able to give more tzedakah than they have in the past.
Tzedaka is often translated as charity. But in Hebrew, the root of the word comes from tzedek or righteousness.
Moshe Freedman writes that the Lubavitcher Rebbe explained it similarly. He explains: “Lastly, the word charity in Hebrew is hessed not tzedakah. Hessed implies that the recipient has no particular right to receive help and the giver is under no obligation to provide it. Tzedakah, however, means righteousness or justice. The implication is that the donor gives out of a sense of duty.”
I would also add that these three keys to ripping up the evil decree all help us focus on our fellow man and society as a whole, and not just about ourselves. Prayer and repentance are, as if you look carefully, you will find that the specific confessional prayers are all written in the plural. Meaning that we have a responsibility to look after each other and even pray for each other’s well-being and atonement.
The obligation to give charity is based on both our need to take care of each other and a recognition that we are just the custodians of money. In truth, all wealth belongs to the Lord; we are just looking after it.
So how can we have more money so that we can give more tzedakah?
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darryll k. jones