In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 2, 2009 / 8 Shevat 5769

How much do the poor have to help the poor?

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q. Our family lives on a very tight budget, but we are managing without any outside assistance. Are we obligated to give charity from our meager income?

A. Giving charity is one of the most important commandments. The Torah expounds on the great blessing that accrues to one who is generous in this mitzvah (Deuteronomy 15:10):

Surely give him, and don't let your heart be grieved when you give to him, for because of this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your deeds, and in all you set out to do.

Normally, a person should give at least ten percent of his income (after tax) to charity. This practice is called maser kesafim, a tithe of money, and is analogous to the agricultural tithes that were given by Biblical command from produce in the land of Israel.

Amazingly, the commandment of giving charity is such a basic requirement that even a poor person who is himself a charity recipient is required to give charity to other needy individuals from the money he himself receives. The community must provide needy individuals with all of their needs; this includes the human need to give charity:

Mar Zutra stated, even a poor person who is supported by charity must [himself] give charity. (1)

The Talmud then goes on to say that even for a charity recipient, giving charity to others can help rescue him from poverty.

However, a poor person does not give ten percent of his income, but rather a token amount. Regarding larger donations, the great early sage Rav Saadiah Gaon wrote, "A person must give precedence to his own support before that of others, and he is not obligated to give charity until he has enough to support himself, as it is written, "Let your [needy] brother live with you" - your life precedes the life of your brother. (2)

Exactly what is the poverty line? In the time of the Talmud, it was considered that a person could subsist for a year on an income of 50 zuz (an ancient coin). Therefore, someone who had a regular income at this level was not eligible for public support. But Rabbi Yaakov ben Asher, a 14th century authority, commented that this figure itself included other forms of public support besides charity, including agricultural gifts. He adds:

Nowadays, when we don't have all this, a person is eligible to accept [charity] until he has sufficient resources to support himself from his income. . . We see that everything is according to the situation. In those days perhaps the cost of living was very low and perhaps it was possible to live comfortably on an income of fifty zuz, but nowadays it is impossible. And everything is according to the place and the time. (3)

The amount of income needed to be able to qualify for some degree of public support nowadays is far above what was considered "subsistence" level a generation ago. For example, years ago a washing machine was a luxury, but today it is a necessity -- there are virtually no Laundromats left.

So if you are at or below the level where you are obtaining or at any rate eligible for means-tested assistance, then you should be giving a token amount to charity. If you are making more than that, then you should strive to give ten percent to those needier than you, as long of course as this does not drive you back below the modern-day subsistence level.

Even if you find that you are exempt from giving a substantial amount of charity because of your limited means, you should still give a token amount in order to remain in the habit of helping others.

SOURCES: (1) Babylonian Talmud, Gittin 7b (2) Cited in Tur and Rema Yoreh Deah 251 (3) Tur Yoreh Deah 253


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JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology. To comment or pose a question, please click here.


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