If there is a poor person among you... you shall open your hand to
him... (Devarim 15:7-8)
All Jews are like brothers, as we see from the Rambam in Hilchos Matnas
Aniyim (10:2). An outgrowth of mitzvah 22 above is to provide financial
assistance to fellow Jews in need. We are urged to be more careful with
this mitzvah than with all others.
Giving tzedakah is equal to all other mitzvos. (Bava Basra 9a)
One should give with a smile... and also offer kind words. Persuading
others to give as well is an even greater mitzvah (Hilchos Matnas Aniyim
We are also taught that redeeming captives is a very great fulfillment of
this mitzvah (ibid. 8:10).
We are taught in Mishlei, "Charity saves from death" (Mishlei 10:2). Why
is this so?
- Giving tzedakah can save someone else's life. Thus, the reward is life.
- By giving tzedakah, one demonstrates that he understands that the
purpose of life is to help others, as it says, "This world is built on
kindness: (Tehillim 89:1). Thus, his reward is life (Rav Shimon Shkop,
Preface to Shaarei Yosher).
The Gemara teaches a fringe benefit to giving tzedakah: "Give a tenth [of
your income to tzedakah] so that you will become wealthy: (Taanis 9a).