Ask any Synagogue Sunday School class what that envelope, or jar, or pushke is – the one the fill with pennies, nickels, and dimes each week – and they will all tell you: “It’s for tzedakah!”.
Ask them what “tzedakah” is and you may not get as solid an answer.
Here’s the thing:
Tzedakah doesn’t mean “charity”
…it doesn’t mean “warm fuzzies”
…it doesn’t mean “when you feel like it”
Tzedakah literally translates as “Justice”. We give because that is one way to achieve fairness in our world. Not to help the unfortunate. Not as a way of afflicting our souls (or pocket books) in order to reap some reward later.
And here’s the other thing: Tzedakah is a mitzvah.
And “mitzvah” does not mean “good dead”
…or “heaven points”
…or “being a nice person”
…or “dumb rule invented by old guys in togas”
Mitzvah means “Commandment”.
We give because we are commanded to do so. Because we obligated ourselves to it.
But HOW we give, well THAT’S the thing, isn’t it?