Giving Charity - Arbitrary or Obligatory?
The generous giving of charity is one of the unique qualities of the Jewish people. In fact, A 2010 study at the University of Indiana found that as a group, Jewish philanthropy in the US far exceeds that of any other group.
“You shall surely open your hand to him,” (Devarim 15:8) is a Torah commandment to give charity.
“Do not close your heart or shut your hand to your needy brother.” (Devarim 15:7) means that turning a poor person away empty-handed is forbidden by the Torah.
Jewish law obligates every individual to give tzedaka – charity even someone himself sustained by charity. Giving charity is not merely a correct distribution of wealth; it’s an opportunity for every Jew to become a “partner with G‑d.”
How we give charity is just as important important as how much we give.
the Talmud warns us, “Do not humiliate a beggar, God is beside him.”
Rabbi Eleazar said, “The reward paid for giving charity is directly related to the kindness with which it is given.”
In Devarim 15:10 the Torah cautions, “Your heart shall not be grieved when you give.”
When there are people in need who are less fortunate than us we must know that G‑d could have easily provided them with everything they need instead of sending them to us for help. Actually, that person is suffering poverty in order to give us the privilege of fulfilling G-d’s will and partner with Him!