Tzedakah – it’s the Jewish response to a world of too much suffering, a world in which some have more than they’ll ever need while others put their children to bed hungry each night. It’s the idea that we are not powerless in the face of degradation, that we can and must help manifest human dignity in the here and now. Rabbi Israel Salanter taught that our neighbor’s material concerns are our spiritual concerns. This month we are focusing on tzedakah, not just as a good idea, not even just as a communal obligation, but as a spiritual practice – one with the potential to refine the human heart and transform the human community.
This month, experiment with one of the following:
- Make an anonymous contribution to a cause you believe in – and don’t tell anyone at all.
One of the highest forms of tzedakah is giving without any expectations of return on your investment – either in honor or in thanks. The practice of anonymous giving helps cultivate a willingness to act just because it’s right, not for any other reason.
- For one week, give to every person in need who asks (even if you don’t want to).
What are you working on? Recognizing the privilege of being able to give something you have to someone who needs. Practice putting aside judgment and simply seeing the humanity in the person before you.
- Strive to tithe. For one pay period, look at your paystub and simply divide by ten. Then choose a worthy cause or two and just give.
The Jewish ideal is to give 10-20%, which is obviously very challenging. But when we hold off on giving tzedakah until the end of year, the idea of tithing becomes even more daunting. While you may not be able to tithe annually, try it just once this month and feel the power of green energy.
Try our Kashrut Challenge:
Try our Speech Mindfulness Challenge:
Try our Shabbat Challenge:
Try our Hesed Challenge:
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