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  • Yehuda Pevzner

Ultimate Tzedakah

The Torah portion of Sisa begins with G-d telling Moshe that he should take a census of the Jewish nation by having each individual give a half-shekel atonement offering. This gift is so powerful that it was able to uplift the Jews.

What was so unique about this charitable act? Charity is, after all, a logical action for the world's sustainability. Moreover, acting generously is not limited to human beings; animals, too, can be charitable.

Tzedakah, or charity, is sometimes given because of an instinctive caring for others or as a logical thing; the survival of humanity depends on it.


A higher form of tzedakah is when a person gives, not for personal reasons, but because G-d has commanded. Yet, even in this instance, his giving is still subject to the limitations of his desire to fulfill G-d's commands.

The highest form of tzedakah is when the Jew gives tzedakah as a response to G-d's command, without any motive or desire whatsoever. It was in this manner that the Jewish people gave the half-shekel.

For, concerning the coin that the Jews were to use, G-d showed him Moshe a coin of fire as an example of what we were to give.

By exhibiting a "coin of fire," G-d empowered each Jew to give their half-shekel with all the fire of their Divine soul, thus enabling the gift to be wholly selfless — the epitome of tzedakah.

This half-shekel gift was, therefore, very different from all acts of tzedakah performed until then and enabled the Jews to reach a far greater degree than they had yet experienced.

It is well known that "Great is charity because it hastens the Redemption." May it be now!

Give a coin to Tzedaka before lighting Shabbat candles at 5:30 PM this week.

Shabbat Shalom!


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