Monday, July 19, 2004

Laws of Charity II

Ch. 249

1: One who can afford to should give as much as the poor require. One who cannot afford to do so should ideally give 20% of his assets or, for an average person, 10%. Anything less than 10% is stingy.
Rema: One should not give away more than 20% of one's assets so as not to become needing of others. But that is only during one's life. At one's time of death, one may give away to charity as much as one wants. One should not use ma'aser money for other mitzvos. It should only be used to support the poor. (Shakh writes that one may use it for other mitzvos)

2: One who gives less than one third of a shekel a year to charity does not fulfill the commandment to give charity.

3: One must give charity with a happy countenance, show sympathy to the poor recipient and speak comfortingly to him. One who gives charity nastily loses one's merit.

4: If a poor person asks for charity and one has nothing to give, one should not be mean to him but should apologetically and sympathetically explain the situation.

Rema: One is prohibited from turning away a requestor empty-handed.

5: If one encourages other to give charity, the encourager has greater reward.

6: There are 8 levels of charity: The highest (8) is supporting a poor Jew and giving him gift, loan, partnership or occupation in which he will be able to support himself.

7: Below this (7) is to give anonymously without knowing the identity of the recipient. Similar to this is placing money in a charity box. However, one should not place money in a charity box unless one knows that the person in charge of the box is reliable and trustworthy.

8: Below this (6) is to know the identity of the recipient but to give anonymously

9: Below this (5) is for the recipient to know the donor's identity but not vice versa.

10: Below this (4) is to give to a poor person before he asks.

11: Below this (3) is to give a proper amount after he asks.

12: Below this (2) is to give an improper amount after he asks.

13: Below this (1) is to give begrudgingly.

Rema: One should not take pride in having given to charity. If one does, one not only loses reward but is punished. However, if one donates an object to charity one may ask to have one's name written on it as a memorial of him.

14: It is good to give one perutah to charity before each prayer.

15: Charity distributors should use charity money to marry of poor orphans.

16: Some say that donating to a synagogue is better than donating to charity, and that giving money to educate poor children in Torah or to the sick is better than donating to a synagogue.

Rema: The practice of pledging money during Yizkor is ancient and helps their souls.

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