Halacha for Wednesday 6 Tammuz 5781 June 16 2021

The Eight Levels of Tzedakah

The Rambam (Chapter 10 of Hilchot Matenot Aniyim) writes that there are eight levels included in the Mitzvah of Tzedakah with each one being greater than the other.

The highest level of Tzedakah is by helping to support a Jew who lacks his basic needs by providing him with money by means of a gift or a loan or by making sure he earns money by entering him into a business or partnership and the like in order for him not to require charity at all. Regarding this does the verse state, “And you shall hold onto him etc. and he shall live with you,” meaning that one should hold onto him until he no longer requires charity and favors from others.

The level under this is when one gives Tzedakah to the needy and the donor does not know who the recipient is and the recipient does not know the identity of the donor. In this case, the Mitzvah is for the sake of Heaven, for no one knows about the act of Tzedakah the donor is performing and there is nothing for him to gain as a result of his Tzedakah. An example of this is when one donates anonymously to a Torah institute or organization that helps support the poor and the recipients do not know who the donor is and the donor does not know the identities of his beneficiaries. The Rambam adds that nevertheless, when one donates in such a manner, one should make sure that the one in charge of the Tzedakah funds is a straight and trustworthy individual, for if not, one will have not fulfilled the Mitzvah of Tzedakah in any event as we have discussed in the previous Halacha. The Gemara in Masechet Baba Batra teaches us, “Which kind of Tzedakah saves one from unusual deaths? This is a Tzedakah where one does not know to whom one is giving and the recipient does not know who the donor is.”

The level under this is when the benefactor knows who the recipient is, but the recipient does not know the identity of the benefactor, such as when Torah luminaries would go and dispense Tzedakah at the doors of the poor. Included in this is one who delivers “packages” to the doors of needy individuals or by sending them valuable coupons and the like. This is indeed a proper and righteous thing to do if those in charge of the Tzedakah funds do not act properly.

The level under this is when the recipient knows the identity of the benefactor, but the donor does not know the identities of the recipients, such as Torah giants who would bundle up money in a cloth and fling it over their shoulder in poor neighborhoods so that whoever is in need can come and take.

The level under this is when one hands money to a needy individual before he asks for Tzedakah.

The level under this is when one hands money to a poor person after he has requested Tzedakah.

The level under this is when one gives a needy individual less than what he needs, but does so with a pleasant demeanor.

The level under this is when one gives the needy individual with resentment that he has caused him to give his money to others.

If one gives money to a poor person with a bitter and resentful demeanor, even if one gives him one-thousand gold coins, one has forsaken the merit of Tzedakah and has lost it. What one should do is to hand him money with a cheerful demeanor, shoulder the poor man’s burden along with him, and speak words of comfort to him, as the verse states, “I shall gladden the widow’s heart.”

The greatest Mitzvah of all is to support poor Torah scholars, such as Kollel fellows who sit and seriously delve in Torah and do not have enough means by which to support themselves. One who helps support them will be deserving that the merit of the Torah shall rest in all of his endeavors. 

Once, a successful businessman from the United States sent his son to study Torah in Israel. The son grew and prospered in his Torah study and fear of Heaven. At the end of the year, the father requested that his son return home and enter the family business. The son replied that he wished to remain in Israel and continue studying Torah. The father then went to consult with Hagaon Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l about how to proceed. Harav Feinstein told him, “As long as your son continues studying Torah in Israel, your business will succeed!” The father thus agreed to allow his son to remain in Israel. Several years later, this son became a great Torah scholar and until this day, he stands at the helm of one of the most prestigious Kollels in Jerusalem and his father regularly exclaims that this son is the family’s crown jewel.

Another incident once occurred with a well-known philanthropist from the United States when, before the collapse of the banks in the United States during the recession of 2008, the late Rosh yeshiva of the Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem, Hagaon Harav Nosson Tzvi Finkel zt”l, visited the man and requested financial aid for the Yeshiva. The man replied that his situation was not that great at the moment and he would not be able to help the yeshiva. To prove this, he showed the Rosh Yeshiva his bank account statement which only contained two million dollars which he needed to run his business. He promised that once his financial situation stabilized somewhat, he would once again continue supporting the yeshiva. The Rosh Yeshiva then requested that since the yeshiva was in dire straits, of he would be willing to loan him any amount of money so that the salaries due to the yeshiva’s Kollel men at the end of the month would not be delayed and immediately thereafter, the Rosh Yeshiva guaranteed that he would return the money. The individual agreed and he gave the Rosh Yeshiva the vast majority of the money in his account and left himself only a small amount that his business would need in the coming days. Several days later, the bank where this philanthropist had invested his money collapsed and would this man not have loaned the Rosh Yeshiva this money, he would not have been left with any money whatsoever. The merit of this great Tzedakah saved this man from a hefty loss, as the verse states, “And the one who causes Tzedakah to come about shall be at peace.”

Ask the Rabbi


ספר אביר הרועים - בית מידות
ספר אביר הרועים
לפרטים לחץ כאן

הלכה יומית מפי הראש"ל הגאון רבי יצחק יוסף שליט"א

דין ברכת שפטרנו מעונשו של זה
לחץ כאן לצפייה בשיעורים נוספים

Recent Halachot

"תנא דבי אליהו כל השונה הלכות בכל יום מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא"

נדה ע"ג א'

8 Halachot Most Popular

The Order for Lighting Shabbat and Chanukah Candles

There is a disagreement among the Rishonim as to the order of lighting Shabbat and Chanukah candles on Erev Shabbat Chanukah. The Ba’al Halachot Gedolot (commonly referred to as “Behag”) is of the opinion that Chanukah candles must be lit before Shabbat candles because women cu......

Read Halacha

Lighting the Chanukah Candles

The Mitzvah of Lighting Chanukah Candles There is a Mitzvah to light Chanukah candles throughout all eight nights of Chanukah (beginning from next Sunday night). The Sephardic custom is to light one set of Chanukah candles per house. The Ashkenazi custom, however, is that every member of the househ......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Boarders, Guests, Soldiers, and Yeshiva Students Regarding Chanukah Candles

Question: If one will be away from home as a guest during Chanukah, how should one act regarding lighting Chanukah candles? Similarly, what is the law regarding a soldier who will be at his military base during Chanukah? Answer: If one is away from home during the holiday of Chanukah and stays a......

Read Halacha

A Guest On Motza’ei Shabbat Chanukah

Question: If one is staying as a guest at one’s parents’ or in-laws’ home for Shabbat Chanukah, where should one light Chanukah candles on Motza’ei Shabbat? Answer: Regarding a married individual who is staying as a guest at his father’s home, according to the Sephar......

Read Halacha


The Laws of Married Children Staying with Their Parents and One Staying in a Hotel

In the previous Halacha, we have explained that although one who has no one lighting on his behalf at home (for instance, because he has no family or because his family is with him) and is staying as a guest in a friend’s home on Chanukah should have been obligated to light candles in one&rsqu......

Read Halacha

“Al Ha’Nissim”

Starting from the Arvit prayer on the first night of Chanukah (this year, 5782, starting from tonight, Sunday night) “Al Ha’Nissim” is added in the Amida in the middle of the Blessing of Thanksgiving (“Modim Anachnu Lach etc.) as it is printed in all Siddurim. Even if mos......

Read Halacha

Hallel on Chanukah as it Pertains to Women

Question: Since women are obligated to light Chanukah candles, does this mean that they are likewise obligated to recite the Hallel every morning of Chanukah as well? Answer: Women are exempt from all positive, time-bound Mitzvot, such as eating in the Sukkah, taking the Lulav, and hearing the Sh......

Read Halacha

Havdala Without Besamim and a Candle

Question: One Motza’ei Shabbat when we were on vacation in the summer, we were not able to procure Besamim (a fragrant object) and a candle. Is it permissible to recite the order of Havdala without Besamim and a candle? Answer: This law is discussed by the Gemara (Berachot 53a): “Rav ......

Read Halacha