Tzedakah is more than just giving money to the poor. Done properly, tzedakah requires that the donor share his or her compassion and empathy along with money. In the words of Maimonides:
Whoever gives tzedakah to the poor with a sour expression and in a surly manner, even if he gives a thousand gold pieces, loses his merit. One should instead give cheerfully and joyfully, and empathize with him in his sorrow as it is said, (Job 30:25) “Did I not cry for him whose day is difficult? Did my soul not grieve for the poor?” Speak to him with compassion and comfort as it is said (Job 29:13) “And I gladden the heart of the widow.” Laws of Gifts to the Poor Chapter 10.
Because we have found that in the discussion of tzedakah, words are repeated, (Deuteronomy 14:22) “you shall surely tithe,” (15:10) “you shall surely give,” (15:8 an 11) “you shall surely open your hand,” (15:8) “you shall surely lend,” the reward is correspondingly doubled “I will surely bless you.” Accordingly, we see that tzedakah has two aspects: giving with the hand and consolation with the mouth so that his heart not be embittered. The donor should give with a pleasant expression and with a full heart and the beggar should not hear rebuke.
The Kli Yakar continues with the following surprising and brilliant interpretation of an apparently unrelated excerpt from the Talmud.The sage known as the Kli Yakar learns this idea in a beautiful commentary based on the Bible’s use of double word forms for emphasis. “You shall surely tithe” becomesaser t’aser. The Kli Yakar says one word of the pair is for money given with the hand and one for compassion given with the heart and mouth.
As our sages, may their memories be for a blessing, said (Berachot 8a) “one who prays should wait the measure of two openings…” [The plain meaning is that rather than rush into prayer upon entering the synagogue, one should wait the amount of time it takes to traverse two doorways.] And this is to fulfill what is said (Psalms 17:15) “I will behold your countenance with justice (tzedakah.)” From here we learn that one should give tzedakah before prayer. That is the measure of two openings as it is said you shall surely open (patuach tiftach) your hand. This refers to the opening of the hand and the opening of the heart. As it says in the previous verse, don’t harden your heart nor close your hand…” So tzedakah has two aspects: one with the hand and one with the heart. And on each, the Holy One Blessed Be He sets a separate reward. Therefore it says I will surely bless you.
Finally, he connects the idea to a verse in Ezekiel regarding the sin of Sodom.
And with regard to this, our sages, may their memories be for a blessing, said in the Midrash that the sin of Sodom was in pairs…because they sinned with regard to tzedakah which has twin elements as it is said (Ezekiel 16:49) “Behold, this was the sin of Sodom, your [proud] sister: [satiated with bread and peaceful tranquility was she and her daughters,] but she did not strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” [Sodom had bread and tranquility — the twin gifts we owe to the poor — but she did not share these with her impoverished.]
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