Thursday, April 22, 2010

Charity as commanded, 1.

Today I helped a stranger in need and got very shaftly screwed.

Hebrew צדקה, like Latin caritas, also often gets translated as "charity." But it renders literally as "justice" or "righteousness."
צדק צדק תרדוף
Justice, and only justice,
you shall follow,
that you may live.
Deut 16.20

Tzedakah is the right responsible way humans care for each other--for each image and representation of God, independent of feelings, whim, finances… It is as optional as obligations are; as with any commandment, the choice is whether to obey. The law is not contingent on the heart, rather, the heart must subject itself to the command.
Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart.
Deut 15.9

There are always opportunities to obey and do tzedakah. The poor, the heartbroken, the widow, the orphan, the sojourner, the sick... Those in need are always among us.
There will never cease to be poor in the land.
Therefore I command you,
"You shall open wide your hand to your brother,
to the needy and to the poor in your land."
Deut 15.11
Me? My hand? My brother? My land?
Well if it's mine, don't I get a say?
You shall not harden your heart or shut your hand...
But you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need,
whatever it may be.
Deut 15.7-8

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