What are we willing to give to help those in need? Judaism’s word for giving, tzedakhah, translates most accurately as justice, not charity.

This week’s Torah portion Re-eh offers some guidelines for giving in the Jewish tradition and introduces the idea of tithing. Tithing is giving 10 percent of your income in money, time, or products. Even though we are encouraged to be generous in our giving, the text indicates that we should not give more than 20 percent. The tradition is trying to model a balance between taking care of others and taking care of ourselves.

There are many ways to give and countless opportunities to make a difference. We can give money to causes or institutions that align with our values. We can work in advocacy, raising awareness and trying to promote change. We can donate food, clothing or household goods. We can teach and educate those around us. We can be the heads of organizations working for good in the world, and we can be involved on the most grassroots level as helpers. We can make a difference at home in private, and we can make a difference publicly in our communities. What is important is not how much we give, but that we do give graciously in relation to our means.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about giving of themselves to those in need.


  • How can you make a positive difference in this world?
  • What can you give in money, time, or items?
  • What is keeping you from giving in this way?
  • How does it feel to help people in need?
  • How do you avoid embarrassing someone you are trying to help?

Values & Ethics—Through a Jewish Lens is created by Fred and Joyce Claar to bring the wisdom of Judaism into family discussions.