September 14, 2023
Teshuvah, Tefillah, Tzedakah
Originally published by Jewish Phoenix.
Rosh Hashanah is a time of renewal as we focus on new beginnings, new goals, and new hopes for the year ahead. The High Holidays are also a time to reflect on how we acted throughout the year and prepare to better ourselves for the year ahead. As we take time for introspection, the period between the High Holidays is a significant time to give tzedakah and perform mitzvot. Jews all around the world will be reciting “Teshuvah, Tefillah, Tzedakah” meaning repentance, prayer, and charity.
On Yom Kippur, the act of giving tzedakah is said to emulate the Shekinah, God’s divine presence, according to the Board of Jewish Education. This important time to give tzedakah allows us to repent for sins from the previous year, while also laying the foundation for a happy and healthy year ahead.
Tzedakah, often thought of as the Hebrew word for “charity,” is the act of doing good deeds. While the English definition of charity means to do acts of service or donate money to help the needy, tzedakah has a slightly different meaning. According to Judaism 101, tzedakah is “not viewed as a generous, magnanimous act; it is simply an act of justice and righteousness, the performance of a duty.” Not only is giving tzedakah a mitzvah, but also a commandment in the Torah.
An article by Judaism 101 explains, “Judaism teaches the belief that donors benefit from tzedakah as much or more than the recipients and the belief remains a common theme in Jewish tradition.” This theme is also often expressed by JFL supporters.
Not only is interest-free lending a commandment in the Torah, but it is also considered the most meritorious way to give tzedakah. According to the medieval rabbi and philosopher, Maimonides, providing interest-free loans is ranked number 1 out of 8 ways to give charity to those in need. Interest-free lending is a hand-up not a handout and allows people to financially support themselves.
As you recite “Teshuvah, Tefillah, Tzedakah,” please consider supporting the work of Jewish Free Loan as we strive to help meet the financial needs of the community in the year ahead.
“No joy is greater than the joy of gladdening the hearts of the poor, the orphans, the widows and the strangers.”- Maimonides.