A question About Tzadakah
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Dear Rabbi,

I would first and foremost like to thank you for the service provided on BJews.com, when sitting bored at work sometimes, there is nothing I would rather do more then check out some of the interesting questions and answers on this site...

This past Shabbat, me and the family got together for my grandmother's yushvo, and one of our guests was one rabbi whom I found to be very interesting and wise in his words. Since Purim is here, the issue of tzadakah or donations was brought up at the dinner table.

I\'m sure you can agree that even though donations can most definitely help the unfortunate....it just so happens that even at worst....most Jews have at least a roof over their head. If I decide to give my share of tzadakah to a non Jew, who in my opinion needs the help much more then a Jew since he does not even have a roof over his head, let alone food or a warm blanket...does that count as tzadakah according to Jewish law? Or does the money have to be directly given to another Jew for it to be considered tzadakah?



Thank you very much for your kind words and thank you for the question! The Halachot of giving Tzadakah (Charity) are complex and appear in the Shulchan Aruch in Yoreh Deah.

In 251:a — the Rema states that we help support the poor of Yisrael together with the poor of the goyim — because of Darchei Shalom (to have peace with them).

Of course, the best form of Tzadakah would be to give to another Jew!

Also, because of the good heart of our Government — whether on the city, state of federal level — they provide programs to help the »homeless« and unfortunate ones in society.

Because of the government's »separation of church and state" — there are many religious institutions who do not receive specific funding to help the poor in their communities.

It's up to the individual members of the community to help support these unfortunate ones with their needs. It is incumbent on everyone to help support the Shuls and Yeshivot — as these are the future of the Jewish people. Everybody must understand the urgency of the matter. Shuls and Yeshivot are NOT money making machines ! They incur tremendous expenses in their day–today operations and any collections made are just a fraction of the amount needed to cover the budget.

I should know — I work in the Yeshiva and work closely with those in the Shuls.

So I would throw a quarter to the homeless man/woman in the train — but donate the bulk of my Tzadakah money to Jewish institutions that further the Torah and Jewish learning.

All the best!!!

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