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What is the Reason: Shabbat & Tzedaka

When was I walking with my husband on Shabbat I kneeled down to pick up $40 I found on the street, but then I hesitated and left the money. My husband said I should have taken it and gave it to Tzedaka, I said that it was Shabbat and we are not allowed to touch money. Who was right? S. A. I think that this is not an issue about which one is right and which one is wrong. Halacha is absolutely clear that you should not have taken the money on Shabbat, even if for Tzedaka. However, we cannot afford to be so “religious” and forget the issues raised by your husband. Otherwise, what is the point of it all? However, compassion is not enough. Tzedaka does not mean charity, but Justice. Charity and compassion are subjective. They reflect not only character, but mood and circumstance as well, and character, mood and circumstance can change. It is difficult to provide objective criteria for either. So, yes, Judaism teaches the Laws of Charity. Halacha takes the decisions away from our moods and feelings and provides structure and discipline to guide and nurture our hearts. When you chose not to pick the money up from the ground you brought more Righteousness into the world – Tzedek – which trains us how to be compassionate and caring. You can and should use such an opportunity to challenge God to instill more Tzedek and Tzedaka in our crazy world.


By the way; you could have pushed the money with your foot into a hiding place. If there is no Eiruv where you live, you could push it for less than 4 Amot – 6 feet – and then let a friend push it for a similar distance, after which a third person can do the same, until you have hidden the money for after Shabbat. Both your husband and you would have been happy, played “Tzedaka Money Soccer” and given the money to someone in need.

Re: “We also ask ‘Master Prayors’, people who love and live prayer not becauseof a special connection with God, but because of their prayer skills.” There is an atheist web site (, which purports to scientifically prove that prayer is superstition. My answer to the atheist is “You do not understand what prayer is. G-d is not a vending machine where the prayer puts in the money (i.e. the prayers) and out pops the soda (i.e. the answer to the prayers). Rather, prayer is an interaction between G-d and the supplicant.” I have difficulty reconciling this, my answer to the atheist, withthe concept of the “expert prayor” I once heard a story at Chabad: “There was a boy who did not know how to pray. All he knew was the Aleph-Bet. So he said, ‘Master of the Universe, I do not know what to say, how to combine the letters in the right way. You know how to combine them, so, please, I will say the letters and you put them together into the proper words.’ He then proceeded to repeat the Aleph-Bet over and over. In heaven it was proclaimed that this prayer was the greatest of all the prayers said that day.” The application seems to directly contradict the idea of the expert prayer. It seems the say that it is not the expertise of the prayer, but, rather, the heartfelt sincerity, which is paramount. The boy was far from an expert, but, because of the interaction that occurred between him and Hashem, his were the greatest prayers. L.F.

You have once again pushed me hard and I am grateful. I would like to write a long essay in response, and hope that with God’s help, I will. (I also intend to dedicate it to you. Especially if you keep on pushing me as you are.) I would like to stress an introductory thought: To Pray is L’HitPaleil – which is Hitpael- Reflexive. Prayer begins as Inner Work. The Master Prayors are the one’s who know how to use prayer to grow and work on themselves. The child’s prayer reflected the child’s inncocnce and purity. It gave expression to something clean and untainted.

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