Tzedakah is a Hebrew word that comes from the word tzedek, which means justice or what is right. Throughout Torah it is used to mean righteousness. Within the scriptures both the TaNaK and the Renewed Covenant we clearly see the principle of charity or caring for and helping others. Within Torah there is no specific Hebrew word for charity but over time the ancient Hebrew teachers developed the word Tzedakah to be used to refer to that concept. Tzedakah Giving to Others, it’s an act of justice and righteousness.
Who should we help? Within scripture we see that we are to assist or care for: the widow, the orphan, the stranger, and of course needy members of our own families. Deut 14:28-29, Deut 24:19-22, and many more.
Scripture says that we are made in the image of Elohim (God) Gen 1:26
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…”
Clearly we can see all throughout Scripture that Yahweh Elohim gives good gifts to His children, that he cares for them and takes care of their needs. Yahshua reminded the people of His day of this principle in Matt. 7:11 and Luke 11:13 and he explains in detail in Matthew chapter 6 that the Father cares for even the smallest bird and the flowers of the field and He cares for us too.
If Yahweh cares for us and gives to us, then we as His children, created in His image should be imitators of Him and do like-wise. We should be doing tzedakah, giving to others who are in need.
Tzedakah Giving to Others
It is tradition in the Jewish community to use small banks, called Tzedakah boxes. These can be purchased or made at home and can take many forms. We would suggest however that you not use a typical “piggy bank” as we all know that piggies are unclean. 🙂
There is something “special” about using a bank or box that is set apart for the purpose of collecting money that you will give to the poor or needy, the widow or the orphan. Some people have only one Tzedakah Box and others have several that they use for various Biblical Holidays.
Many times families keep the bank on the dinner table and before each meal each member adds to the bank. Some ways families can generate additional income to give to others are: family yard sale, charity bake sale, charity car wash, family craft sale, family produce stand, etc.
When the bank is full, you can make your financial contribution to the charity or person(s) that you feel led of the Father to bless.
Other Tzedakah ideas for individuals, couples and families:
- Offer to help at a homeless shelter or urban mission feeding program
- Offer to volunteer at a nursing home
- Offer to provide an afternoon or evening program for the residents at a nursing home, senior citizen group, etc – Sing songs, teach them a simple Hebraic dance, do a family dance presentation, read scripture out loud, give each resident a small handmade craft, read poetry out loud, offer to play checkers or other games with them – just use your imagination.
- Work throughout the year to make knit or crocheted caps or scarves to be given to the needy
- Offer to help a widow or elderly person at their home – clean up the yard (mowing, pull weeds, pick up branches, etc.), wash their automobile, clean their home, cook them a delicious homemade meal and have dinner with them, help them write correspondence notes for friends and family, clean out their garage or basement, or whatever other practical help they might need. Don’t forget to visit with them and ask them questions and allow them to talk and share about their life.
What do you use for a Tzedakah bank? What type of acts of charity do you and or your family do?
Please share your ideas with us.