Charity Begins at Home

Doesn't it?

Comments (41)

(41) Anonymous, June 1, 2008 3:21 PM

Great question... I do not believe in exclusivity.

However, I believe there is a balance - health needs come first, then education, and of course Jewish causes are important. Who can tell anyone what to do with their money? If a Jew does not feel compelled to give to his/her fellow Jews, who are we to judge? It does offer a wonderful point for reflection for those of us who may not have $100 million to give away, but if we did, who would we give to?

(40) Bobbie Walker, May 30, 2008 3:04 PM

Like you said, "Charity begins at home"--wherever that is.

Personally I question the validity of giving to comparative strangers when those . Shalom

(39) ADELE ARONSON, May 29, 2008 8:12 PM


(38) Ziva Kramer, May 28, 2008 5:57 PM

without a doubt

It is our obligation to assist our brothers first!

(37) Menahem, May 28, 2008 2:13 PM

The best thing he could do with his money

I see so many orphans and so many people in desperation because of--HaShem save us--terminal illness. I see here in the Holy Land how the government is trying to dry up all settlement activity here in Eretz Israel. Tell me all the Mr. Bigshots who gives all the money to a public library and the like: you really can''t find a better thing to do with those dollars? If you can''t, get in touch with me or any Jew with a Jewish heart-- and start bringing comfort to where it really is needed.

(36) David M. Cohen, May 28, 2008 2:02 PM

Pointless to point fingers

It''s pointless to point fingers at Jews who aren''t committed to Judaism and the Jewish people, and deride them for not giving tzedakah to Jewish institutions. This can do no good, since they don''t feel that Jewishness is important. What we must do is ask ourselves, what can we do show these people that being Jewish does signify something great? Only once Jewishness is important to them personally will they see Jews as important recipients for their philanthropy.

All the best,

David C.

(35) Elsie Dudovitz, May 28, 2008 10:38 AM

The Torah clearly states that Is it our obligation as Jews to give to our own first before gving to others.

How sad that many wealthy Jews don''t see the need to support poor Jews, Jewish institutions and of course Israel rather than the secular world around them. They need to be educated to do this!! After giving to "their own" they can surely help the "goyish" world, after all it is their hard earned money, but there is something wrong with their priorities!!

(34) Anonymous, May 28, 2008 9:39 AM

I strongly believe that Jewish people should give first to their community. We have so many Bikur Cholims that need funds desperatley. We have yeshivahs that are open only because of organizations that help them. Sick people who cant afford insurance, Tomcha Shabbos, is just a few that need help.

(33) Shmuel Shultz, May 28, 2008 1:48 AM

Yes of Course We should first give to our people

I believe that we should first give to our people. Goyim might say that scripture doesn''t support that we should give to our people first but Christians usually don''t really understand the Torah very well.

(32) Francis SOUSSAN, May 28, 2008 12:58 AM

According to the Jewish laws of course we should say as " aniycho kodeym "

(31) Leiby Burnham, May 27, 2008 8:47 PM

Its not their money!!!

When G-d gives someone stewardship over vast amounts of money (and as Jews we believe that it is not one''s hard work or brilliance that got them their money, but G-d) it comes along with a responsibility to spend it properly. One must first take care of their own family, their Jewish brethren, before taking care of the New York Library!!!

(30) Patricia, May 27, 2008 7:34 PM

I believe that scripture will, perhaps not back up your comment on sharing your wealth with the Jewish comminity, but it will certainly support the heading of your commentary "Charity Begins at Home". 1 Timothy 5:8 reads,
If anyone does not provide for his relatives, especially for his immediate family,he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

(29) Anonymous, May 27, 2008 4:32 PM

Talmud says it''s Hashem''s money!

We believe that all wealth comes from Hashem throught his generous and merciful Blessings. Why some of us are more wealthy than others, we do not know. But, chazal says it may be a test to see how we will utilize our blessings. We are further taught, that the priority of charity starts with ones family, then our local Jewish community, then the wider Jewish community and finally to those in need through-out the word. It would seem to me that many wealthy Jews are assimilated and are not aware of the priority set out in our scriptures. Also, there is more prestige and honour in this world for donations to secular, famous, institions compared to say, some Yeshiva or some other Jewish cause. The only thing that follows us to the grave, is our good name, as judged by Hashem''s priorities.

(28) Nachman, May 27, 2008 2:30 PM

Yes - but why, is the real question

Yes, I believe that you can give your money to whatever cause you wish. The big question is why do these philanthropists not care enough to give to Jewish charities and educational institutions first. Does it reflect on their inner soul, and their commitment to the Torah? I fear that it does, and that''s the issue, and the real question. What happened to their value system, or what happened to their own Jewish education and values?
Sadly, the Kiruv organizations, such as Aish, know the answer.
Chazak, and keep up the good work!

(27) Yohanon, May 27, 2008 2:24 PM

Ramba"m said it all

TO DO: Start with the immediate family, then the extended family, then the community (being congregation then general) - keep expanding as funds allow.
ACKNOWLEDGE those organizations that DO focus on Jewish needy, including those such as aliyah movements (after all, it''s something for the Jewish soul).

(26) Ruth Housman, May 27, 2008 1:34 PM

charities that are personally meaningful

Hi, I found these statistics, about giving, very interesting. I am one who does feel that giving to art museums, science museums and other places not strictly "Jewish" is a kind of deep giving back as education of all kinds, for all people, is so important, particularly our children. I don''t think personally I wouldn''t think about Jewish institutions, being Jewish, if I had massive amounts of money, as some of these Jewish philanthropists you mention. I would probably give to places that I felt gave me something of value and places that hold the values that I cherish, such as, the place in Israel that is so environmentally conscious and gives children an opportunity to experience nature first hand. I think we all give according to our particular interests and experience. I am not sure why these statistics say these folks are giving more and maybe even exclusively to non Jewish institutions but I might want to probe deeper, to find out why.

I am curious, aren''t you?

(25) Anonymous, May 27, 2008 12:28 PM

The Iranian Jews follow a stricter code of charity:
The lamp that is needed for one''s own house is forbidden (haram) to the house of worship (mosque).

(24) Anonymous, May 27, 2008 11:56 AM

Reason *or* unreasonable

The question arises all over the world.Where should one give money? I think that the first step is to help your cmmunity, and Irael. Now, there are so many Jewish different organizations that in my country need /and ak for money that when you don''t have millions, you choose between a few that, we personally choose. There is the WIZO,the women''s organization, the school, the home for older people which has lost reabilitation because of the lack of money, thr Maccabi for sports. And, there is Sderot, Israeli children and research done in Israel....etc.

(23) Kathy, May 27, 2008 11:08 AM

I agree

I totally agree with you! While I was growing up not matter what our situation was (not always very good) my grandparents and my parents ALWAYS gave to Jewish organizations first, of course, we gave to other causes, mostly health issues. My husband and I (and we try to teach our kids) do the same! We mostly give to particular Jewish causes, esp the ones that my Father had told us had helped his family when he was young in the Lower East Side. If we don''t take care of our own, who will?

(22) L. Mark DeAngelis, May 27, 2008 11:08 AM

Why Are We Surprised

The only thing that surprises me is that we would be surprised in any way that the vast majority of Jewish philanthropy goes to non-Jewish causes. The vast majority of Jewish energy goes into living lives completely devoid of Torah and Mitzvot so why would we think their hearts would be focused on their fellow Jew. It is all about buying acceptance in the secular world--advancing their social position.

The frum community better start focusing on developing means of supporting itself and making living a religious life financially viable because even if the center and left were interested in supporting our institutions they won''t be around much longer anyway.

(21) Tanya, May 27, 2008 10:27 AM


When a person donates to a non Jewish cause its time for religious people and their organizations to do some self refeltion such as how do we behave towards non religious and other religious people. Do they see us as money grabbers , no manners, or people who are a kiddish Hashem and loving towards them. Do we make them feel welcome and accepted as is. Maybey its our attiudes and behaviors that need adjustment.

(20) g. WALTER, May 27, 2008 10:08 AM

Bless you rabbi

Very well said--it seems like our "Well to do" Jewish population forgot their importance to the us the majority of not so well to do Jews--but generally we are the once who have to take the negatives about how all Jews are rich-keep the money among the not to well established Jews would be a blessing! Build a NEW Temple--poor have to use Christian Churches--lets build Synagogues to put pride back into being a JEW!!!!!

(19) Allan, May 27, 2008 10:00 AM

Non Jewish Jews

Being Jewish to many Jews is a non-starter. It means nothing to them. They have been marginalized in their growing up and secularized in their beliefs. Judaism became lumped into the melting pot of fanciful ideas. So what can we expect?

(18) Jean, May 27, 2008 9:59 AM

Feed the poor

G-d calls us to feed the poor, widows and orphans - family becomes "one" with Him - Love God, then family...

(17) Sheila Halet, May 27, 2008 9:55 AM

Money talks

You are right!!! It is nice to be able to use one''s money for good - and that is their choice. If we had that option, how would we act....I wish I had such a choice to make - Rabbi Salomon "the wise"

(16) Na''avah, May 27, 2008 9:21 AM

Feed Hungry Children First!

I say until there are no more hungry children how could you ever feel good about adding another wing to some overblown museum or center of luxury just so your name can be added to the "look how much money I have" lists! Feed the children first ~ then we can talk about the state of the art facility that we "need" to have... it''s shameful to say the least.

(15), May 27, 2008 9:11 AM

Jewish poor & near poor need you

Thank you Rabbi Salomon. The Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty serves those 200,000-plus poor Jewish New Yorkers (and many others) as well as the working poor through its housing, employment, home care, kosher food pantry (13,000 families helped per month)and crisis intervention services. More than 90% of our funding comes from government. The Jewish community and Jews who have the ability to contribute must do more especially during difficult times when increased numbers of people in need face hard economic times and government cuts back funding for social programs.

(14) Annette, May 27, 2008 9:01 AM

outreach: ?

Something we''re not good at, as Jews, is ''missionizing'', not even to eachother... we should take lessons from the many Chabad & Jews For Judaism who DO successfully reach out to non associated Jews, their reasons differ but their means Do justify the end.
Power of association is after all, Powerful.

(13) Yehoshua, May 27, 2008 8:58 AM

What that philanthropist did hurts to hear!

First of all-- it''s not our money. It was given by G-d and can be taken from us- by a dentist,for example. Those who have the money are being tested. The Hebrew word, "Tzadakah," means JUSTICE. We were given money, in order to do justice with the poor that G-d has created. That is one of the ways that Jews can participate in the active creation and sustainment of the world, according to Torah. No ifs or buts about this.
The Ba''al haTanyah says, that when a Jew gives money to the POOR, it is as if he is physically sacrificing himself, since he could buy food for himself. So the calories and fat that he has forfitted are raised above, as if he has sacrificed himself on the alter in the Holy Temple. Not only that, but he is truly living the precept that all Jews are bound to one another. In fact, we really are one soul-- as the inner-Torah (the "kabbalah") teaches us.
The GREATEST thing a Jew can do with his money, is not even to inherit it to his children. They''ll manage fine without it. The GREATEST thing is to give it to poor Torah scholars or Yeshivot in the Land of Israel. Give it to a library!? That''s un-Jewish and just plain wierd, to be blunt.
The Hafetz Haaim''s "Ahavat Hesed," in the English version-- something like "Love of Kindness" is must learning for any Jew with or without money.

(12) Sarasota John, May 27, 2008 8:20 AM

The correct order

First things first God, family, country and in that order. If you don''t have the first three the rest does not matter. God does not need your money and only wants your soul, your family wants only your time and love which money can''t buy, your country only wants your life. So it doesn''t matter where you send your money.

(11) Flo, May 27, 2008 8:18 AM

Buying love?

Sometimes people like to give to causes where their name will be known to the public. It is almost as though they are trying to buy favor with man. When we give secretly to things close to our heart such as Jewish charitiies, our reward comes from G-d. When we give to be acknowleged by man, we have our reward already.

(10) Batya, May 27, 2008 8:11 AM

Thank You!

Thank you, Rabbi! You have put voice to something that has been bothering me for so long. I am one of those "poor Jews"(due to disability) of whom you spoke. I give tzedakah regularly, even if it is just one dollar. But when I found out that the Jewish Federation for my area gives most of the money they receive to non-Jewish causes, I stopped giving to them. I now donate directly to the Jewish causes that I feel are most in need. But when there are Jews in our own cities who cannot afford the basics of living, why are we giving our money to non-Jewish groups? Believe me, I don''t think anyone should have to go without food! But there are so few of us (Jews) and so many non-Jewish charities, if we don''t look after our own, who will?? Some money should certainly be given to non-Jews and charities not specifically directed at Jews. And I still don''t think we can tell someone else where to donate their money. But we should certainly make them aware of the need of Jewish causes. The decision is then up to them. I hope they chose wisely.

(9) robert fragman, May 27, 2008 8:00 AM

the money is not mine but a gift from above the way I see it. i feel that we have to be responable first to our own, then to children because they didn''t ask to be here in the first place, and lastly to organization such as drs. without borders. Just as important we must check out the charities to make sure they are the best ones. That''s also our resposibilty

(8) david, May 26, 2008 2:02 PM

Do what the Torah teaches

1rts we must help our family members
2nd jews in our comunity
3rd jews in Israel
4th jews in other countries
5th Non jews (if any left)

(7) Anonymous, May 26, 2008 9:15 AM

What does the Torah say?

Don''t many Jews believe the same thing that most believing Christians, Moslems, and others believe - that the Creator of the Universe spoke with mankind at the giving of the Torah? If so, then you tell us Rabbi. Where does the Creator want us to put our charity money? Does it really matter if we give a lot or a little?

(6) hersh, May 25, 2008 11:29 PM

I think someone who has money can tell someone else who has money that he should do as he does, and give money to jewish causes.But someone who has no money should tell other people who also have no money what not to do with their money.

(5) Eli Cohen, May 25, 2008 9:25 PM

It''s just an indication

The main problem is that these people are doing what is popular in their circles, and the reason why they are in those circles is because of their upbringing.
So in order for them to give tzedoko in a way that is logical for us, they would have to live in a similar environment.
Isn''t that the root of the issue?
Great going Yaakov!

(4) sharona, May 25, 2008 8:47 PM

good point

I think that we should give to both Jews and non-Jews. I feel though that we should give to Jews first because there are so many Jewish causes that need our support. If we don''t help ourselvse, nobody will. -- Non-Jews have plenty of people out there to support them including us who help sometimes. But we also need to take care of ourselves besides others

(3) ross, May 25, 2008 10:55 AM

It''s what''s important

Would it be a surprise if any of these philanthropists have little to do with Judaism, and might even be intermarried, so the important things on their list are totally secular? We can''t tell anyone what to do with his money if his list of priorities are so different than ours. It''s like telling someone to like chocolate, not vanilla. If they ever see the importance of their heritage, then they''ll want to donate to Jewish causes.

(2) Jamie, May 25, 2008 9:12 AM

I think one should donate to both

As a Jew I believe it is important to donate to Jewish causes but that does not mean that we are to ignore non jews that are in need. I think its a balancing act, in an ideal world one would donate to both jewish and non jewish causes.

(1) Rosen, May 25, 2008 7:52 AM

a little philanthropy

I''m not so sure if Jewish organizations get less than 1% of donations from Jews and others. I try to give/spare more money to Jewish organizations than I do of secular organizations. I have even given up to $100 to Jewish causes including the Lubavitcher synagogue I attend to and $100 for''s "Money from Heaven" raffle ticket. My Rabbi at the Lubavitcher synagogue even suggested that I ought to give about 90% of my tzedakah to Jewish causes. Thus, I have donated money to various Jewish organizations including the American Jewish Committee, the World Jewish Congress, ADL, Od Yosef Chai, Yad Sarah, etc. I''ve even donated some money to help the poor and hungry both here at home and in Israel...I receive a lot of mail and e-mail from Jewish organizations encouraging me to donate to Jewish causes, among others.

Even so, I do understand that just (roughly) 10% of what I earn should go to charitable causes, either Jewish or secular. So, I have to be careful and frugal of how I go about spending my money since I need to balance what I spend for myself before I decide to give tikkun olam.

All in all, I''ve given more money to Jewish organizations and causes, so there is at least one who tries to donate more to those. And, since I am not so rich, monetarily speaking, I do acknowledge the 10% suggested rule. So, the money I spend I try to balance between myself and others as long as I can spare at least a little for them.


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