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Tzedakah, means righteousness, thus is understood as doing the right thing. The word originates from the word Tzedek originating from the word Tzedek meaning justice Today the word Zedakah is commonly translated as charity and implies that our heart motivates us to go beyond the call of duty. We feel that by giving and dispensing the money that G-d entrusted to us in the way that He desires we are doing justice. Tzedek, Tzedek Tirdof, justice justice you shall pursue, Deut. 16:20. It is our basic human responsibility to reach out to others. Giving of our time and our money is a statement that we will do whatever we can to help the less fortunate. The Torah in Deut. 14:22 recommend that we give 10 percent hence the popular expression tithe, meaning one-tenth. You shall surely tithe all the increase of your seed, that which comes forth from the field year by year. The tradition of matan beseter, anonymous giving, evolved in accordance with the words of Birkat Hamazon: May the L-rd make us dependent not on the alms or loans of others, but rather on G-d’s full, open and generous hand, so that we may never be humiliated or put to shame. Thus one should donate anonymously to those in need as receiving mutual anonymous tzedakah takes much of the sting out of being on the receiving end and preserves the dignity of the needed people.
Giving Tzedakah, charity, is an integral part of Jewish living. There are many forms of righteous deeds, but giving charity to those in need is the most important one. As one should be prepared to give whenever you can, people saved money and kept it in a safe place ready for giving. Many Jewish families keep Tzedakah boxes in their homes. Sometimes every member of the family has his or hers. Many have made it a tradition to put money in the Tzedakah Box before lighting Shabbat candles every Friday night. It is also for educational reasons that kids from early age learn to save, and give Tzdakah. Because people wanted to personalize their own box so it will be recognized at home every one in the family had a different one. In time artists were commissioned to do Tzdakah boxes and they became a beautiful and meaningful gift for babies, Bat and Bar mitzvahs, and sometimes as a presentation gift to donors. You can find an array of Tzedakah boxes made of all kinds of material: wood Tzedakah boxes, stone Tzedakah boxes, ceramic Tzedakah boxes, glass Tzedakah boxes, and many more. Just find the one that suits you best!
Half Shekel Tzdaka Custom
A rare half shekel coin that was first minted in about 66 or 67 C.E. was discovered volunteers that sifted the mounds of dirt from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. As long as the Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem every man over the age of twenty was required to donate half a silver Shekel to the Temple coffers every year. Based on this custom it bacame tradition to give three coins to charity,Tzdaka, on Purim eve in order to recall the half-shekel that was donated annually to the Temple treasury in the month of Adar. Moreover today charity is given from the age of thirteen, Bar Mitzvah. We are commanded to give three half shekel coins, Machatzit HaShekel, because in the portion of the Torah dealing with the half-shekel, Exodus 30:11-16, the word terumah,donation or charity, appears three times. - They shall give this, everyone who passes over to those who are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary; the shekel is twenty Gerahs; half a shekel for an offering to G-d. It also is very important to note that in order to fulfill the Mitzvah one should not give one whole coin and one half-coin, and not give more than the correct amount and than ask for change. The picture depicted here is a replica of the Half Shekel coin as replicated by the City of David artists