Sunday, April 08, 2007

Tzedaka to a Non-Jew?

My friend who will one day be a guest blogger on this blog asked me the following question. Do you think that it is a mitzvah to give tzeddaka to a non- Jew? I answered him that each situation is different and it is possible in my opinion that it can be a mitzvah to give a non-
Jew money. After i answered him that he emailed me the following piece from Rav Hirsch

The Horeb: A Philosophy of Jewish Laws and Observances by Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch. In Section five, chapter 88 (page 428 of the Grunfeld tranlated edition) he says as follows:
"Everyone in need has a claim on your charity; those poor who are not Jewish, even those who practice idolatry, are cared for in like fashion, as are all parts of one all-embracing mankind. However, to the ger-toshav, -- i.e. to the non-Jew who, not practicing idolatry, has undertaken to fulfil the seven general duties, the law accords a claim on your charity fully equal to that of a Jew."

I think my friend was asking me this because he feels that many orthodox Rabbaim today will tell you it is not a Mitzvah to give Tzedaka to a non-Jew and wanted to know why. I cannot defend Rabbaim who will say something like that especially now after my friend showed me a Torah authority who says something else.


Litvak said...

With all due respect, this is not really a revelation. Any Rabbi worth his beans will tell you that we give to worthy recipients, even if they are not of our faith. It is clearly so stated in the basic texts of Jewish law.

There is another relevant and related question though. Namely, does this mean that you have to give to an aggressive panhandler on the subway (esp. being that there are or were signs from the MTA discouraging that) or give someone on the street who might use money you give him for drugs or alcohol ? That I would not advise. However, if someone truly needs help for food, etc., sure you should give them. So some advise that you give them food, like buy them lunch or coffee, instead of giving them cash which could be used improperly or may be like supporting extortion-like habits on their part.

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...

The רמב"ם in הלכות מתנות עניים (chapter 1 and Chapter 7) writes that one is not obligated to give a עכו"ם charity because of the the מצווה of צדקה but nonetheless, one is obligated to give a non-Jew charity because of דרכי שלום.

Litvak said...

עכו"ם means someone who worships the stars and planets. I don't think that is a popular religion today in the places most of us dwell.

אבטליון אומר......חכמים הזהרו בדבריכם

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...

The Rambam actually said גוי not a עכו"ם

socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Never heard of it interesting.

seraphya said...

We had to deal with this a lot in helping out for Darfur in Yeshivot

מפני דרכי שלום: הרי נאמר "טוב ה' לכול; ורחמיו, על כל מעשיו" (תהילים קמה:ט) ונאמר "דרכיה, דרכי נועם; וכל נתיבותיה, שלום"(משלי ג:יז

The Hebrew isn't pasting well but here is the transilation for what Darchei Shalom means according to the rambam

Behold, [Psalms 145:9] states: “God is good to all and God’s mercies extend over all God’s works” and [Proverbs 3:17] states: “[The Torah’s] ways are pleasant ways and all its paths are peace.”

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