Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The extent of our tzedakah obligation


"Our sages taught: If an orphan comes to get married, we rent a house for him, we arrange a bed and all necessary implements, and we pay for him to get married, as it is written (Deuteronomy 15), “[Give him] whatever he is lacking, which is lacking to him.” ‘Whatever he is lacking’ refers to a house, ‘that is lacking’ refers to a bed and table, and ‘to him’ refers to getting married, as it is written (Genesis 2), “I will make to him a helpmate opposite him.”

"Our sages taught: ‘Whatever he is lacking’ means that we must support him, but we are not instructed to enrich him. ‘That is lacking to him’ means even a horse to ride and a servant to run before him.

"It is said of Hillel the Elder that he purchased a horse for a pauper whose parents had been wealthy, and he hired a servant to run in front of the horse. Once Hillel could not find a servant, and so he ran in front of the pauper for 3 mil (about 3 kilometers), himself."

(Talmud, Ketuvot 67b)

Have a great day,

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