TZEDAQAH is a difficult word for English speakers to understand. At first glance it appears to mean something that simply makes no sense -- a combination of charity and justice. In English, charity is voluntary while justice is mandatory. This problem was created when translators incorrectly linked the Hebrew word charity to TZEDAQAH. They should have linked it to loyalty.
TZEDAQAH is a combination of loyalty and justice.
1. Loyalty to the community in conduct and honesty.
2. Justice by eliminating things that decrease SHALOM or create disorder in the community.
In the Jewish culture, people do not ultimately own everything. What people have is ultimately God's and He merely lends it to people. He gives it to people in trust and one of the conditions of that trust is that “people must share what they own with people who have less than they have.”
TZEDAQAH is the foundation of social justice because acts of TZEDAQAH fulfill legal and moral obligations of community members to do what is right in all relationships. Acts of TZEDAQAH are concrete acts, not abstract notions.
Members of the community must be taught about TZEDAQAH because it is not an inherent human characteristic. It is a learned trait resulting from the sustained performance of obligations through the constant pursuit of justice by performing acts of TZEDAQAH.
TZEDAQAH & SHALOM
Isaiah’s prophesy (32:11-18) helps us see the big picture better.
“Tremble, you complacent ones! Quake, O confident ones. Strip yourself naked and put cloth around your loins. Beat your breasts, lamenting for pleasant fields and fruitful vines.
Thorns and briers shall spring up on the land of My people, even over the houses of joy in the jubilant cities, because the palace has been forsaken, the multitude of the city has been abandoned, rampart and tower are instead caves until forever, a joy for wild donkeys, a pasture for flocks – until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high.
Then the desert becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is counted as a forest. MISHPAT (justice) shall dwell in the desert, and TZEDAQAH shall reside in the fruitful field. The work of TZEDAQAH will be SHALOM, and the service of TZEDAQAH will be tranquility and safety until eternity. And My people will dwell in homes of SHALOM – safe homes in secure resting places.”
Now let’s review what we learned in the discussions about TOV, TZEDAQAH and SHALOM -- and put the pieces together.
● Acts of TZEDAQAH measure TOV and increase SHALOM.
● Acts of TZEDAQAH demonstrate one’s loyalty and faithfulness to the community.
● Acts of TZEDAQAH are acts of justice because they eliminate things that decrease SHALOM or disrupt order in the community.
● Failure to do acts of TZEDAQAH measure evil and decrease SHALOM and/or disrupts order in the community.
● Failure to do acts of TZEDAQAH is being disloyal and unfaithful to the community.
● Failure to do acts of TZEDAQAH makes a person guilty of a crime because SHALOM is decrease.
A person who does acts of TZEDAQAH is called a TZADIQ –
a good and/or innocent person.
A person who fails to do acts of TZEDAQAH is called –
an evil and/or guilty person.
Understanding this is an absolutely essential requirement for understanding the Jewish Scriptures and the teachings of the Jewish Jesus.
The status of each person – innocent or guilty –
at the moment of death or on the Great Day of Judgment,
determines his or her ultimate destiny.
I will continue this discussion in my next email.
May your Shalom increase,