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Jewish Journal

Why tzedakah should not be mistaken for charity.

by Samira Asemanfar

November 8, 2011 | 6:18 pm

iPhone Application: Tzedakah Calculator.
Because that which you measure you achieve.

Tzedakah, for many, has become another word for charity. Charity is about giving out of the kindness in your heart, generally when it is convenient. Tzedakah is not. It is about giving, consistently to those in need what is theirs, because it is an obligation on your part as a fellow member of humanity.

Rabbi Wayne D. Dosick reminds us…

The concept of tzedakah has its roots in the Torah, which teaches, “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not completely reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your vineyard, or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger.” (Leviticus 10:0-10) An owner of a field, a landlord, is only a temporary guardian of the land. The real owner is Lord of all land, [God]... The poor do not have to come to you begging for a handout or asking for your generosity, because the produce of the corners is not yours. It is theirs.

Take that in for a moment… the corners of the crops are actually not yours but for the less fortunate, you are just a temporary guardian. A small reminder really shifts your perspective and changes your relationship to tzedakah, doesn’t it?

Simply put: tzedakah should not be mistaken for charity because sooner or later if we only rely on good times and convenience to help those in need, it simply won’t be enough.

Use this moment to see how you can manage your budget for a better business and lifestyle too. When you raise your standard, everything else rises with it. Raise your standard today and see how your perspective and actions will shift dramatically.

A few hints as to where you can possibly shift your perspective:
—If you’re the type to label eating out, vacationing and personal pampering as an “extra” expense category and only allocate money when it’s convenient… remember that you’re not doing yourself a favor by engaging in such activities… you are doing what is necessary to live a happy and fulfilling life. It is an obligatory category. Don’t short change yourself, just like you wouldn’t short change the needy.
—If you’re the type to never have enough money to buy presents for celebrations, revise your method and put away money in a gift category… because it should be your obligation to have money to spend on loved ones, especially on special occasions.
—If your business has chipped paint on the walls, a loose door knob amongst other items that need fixing and you’ve been putting it off because it’s an “extra” expense… remember that it is an obligation to keep things fresh and up to date and create an environment that your employees want to work in.
—If you don’t regularly give to those in need, revise your method now, don’t wait till it’s convenient.

If you find you can shift your perspective and actions in other areas of your life, share it with me!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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After graduating from the Marshall School of Business at USC in 2004, Samira Asemanfar of Los Angeles California joined KPMG, LLP as an internal auditor and SOX compliance...

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