The Giver

By Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)



In this study I would like to understand more about “givers” – those who are generous with their time, wealth, and material possessions. In the process we will also have to learn a bit about “receivers”, those who benefit from the those who give. I am doing this study because I have noticed that “givers” and “receivers” are not just people. For example, HaShem is the ultimate “giver” and the people in this world are the “receivers” of HaShem’s giving.


The Hebrew word for charity, generous “giving”, is “tzedaka”. This word is derived from the Hebrew root Tzade-Dalet-Qof(צדק), meaning righteousness, justice or fairness. Doing tzedaka, often translated as “justice” or “charity”, is incumbent on all Jews according to the Torah. Usually doing tzedaka involves putting a few coins in a tzedaka box. Chazal, our Sages, teach us that there is a lot more to this mitzva[1] than meets the eye. To expose the insights into this mitzva, lets take a look at a very poor person who had fallen from her place as a princess and was reduced to gleaning in order to survive:


Ruth 2:19 “Where did you glean today?” her mother-in-law asked her. “Where did you work? May the one that took (such generous] notice of you be blessed. “So she told her mother-in-law by whom she had worked, and said, “The name of the man by whom I worked today is Boaz.”


In this pasuk, passage, we are eavesdropping on a conversation between Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth. Ruth, the daughter of the king of Moab, has just returned from her first day of gleaning in the field of Boaz. The wording of the above pasuk suggests that Boaz was helped more by giving tzedaka to Ruth, than Ruth was helped by Boaz’s tzedaka.


The Sages of the Midrash discuss the unusual wording of this passage:


Midrash Rabbah Ruth V:9 AND HER MOTHER-IN-LAW SAID UNTO HER: WHERE HAST THOU GLEANED TO-DAY? (ib. 19). It was taught in the name of R. Joshua: More than the householder does for the poor man, does the poor man do for the householder, for Ruth said to Naomi: THE MAN’S NAME FOR WHOM I WROUGHT TO-DAY. She did not say, ‘who wrought for me,’ but FOR WHOM I WROUGHT. I wrought him many benefits in return for the one morsel of food which he gave me. R. Jose said: ya’an ubeya’an; the word ya’an (because) has the same letters as ‘ani (a poor man). R. Shiloh of Noveh said: Your wealth depends upon the poor man. R. Nahman said: It is written, Because that (bigelal) for this thing the Lord thy God will bless thee in all thy work: (Deuteronomy XV, 10) it [poverty] is a wheel (galgal) which comes round to all in the world, like the wheel of a pump which empties that which is full and fills that which is empty. Bar Kappara said: There is no man who does not come to this state [poverty], and if he does not his son does, and if not his son, his grandson. It was taught: R. Eliezer b. Jacob said: The vengeance taken of the idolatrous nations will be on account of Israel, while the vengeance taken of Israel will be on account of their poor. The vengeance taken of the idolatrous nations will be on account of Israel, as it is said, And I will lay My vengeance upon Edom by the hand of My people Israel  (Ezek. XXV, 14); the vengeance taken of Israel will be on account of their poor, as it is said, And he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be sin in thee  (Deuteronomy XV, 9). R. Abun said: The poor man stands at your door, and the Holy One, blessed be He, stands at his right hand. If you give unto him, He who stands at his right hand will bless you, but if not, He will exact punishment from you, as it is said, Because He standeth at the right hand of the needy  (Psalm CIX, 31). R. Abbahu said: We should be grateful even to the impostors among them. It has been stated: R. Johanan and Resh Lakish went down to bathe in the public baths of Tiberias, and a poor man accosted them. He said to them, ‘Give me something.’ They answered, ‘When we come out we will give it.’ When they came out they found him dead. They said: ‘ Since we did not assist him during his life, let us attend to him after his death.’ When they arose from washing his body, they found a purse of dinars by him, and they said: ‘ It is well.’ Whereupon R. Abbahu said: ‘We should be grateful even to the impostors among them, for were it not for the impostors among them, were a man to see a beggar begging alms and refuse him, he would be punished with death immediately.’


This brief conversation between Ruth and Naomi teaches us two important lessons. First, when we give tzedaka or deal with those less fortunate than us, we have to be fully cognizant that someone is hurting because they are in need. It is a very humbling experience to be so poor that we have to accept tzedaka. We have to try and minimize this pain to whatever extent we can, so that those who are poor can maintain their dignity and pride and avoid despair. Second, Ruth is a shining example of one who can see reality and accentuate the positive. Even at one of the lowest moments in her life, a time when she may have rightfully become sad, depressed, and possibly lose faith in HaShem, she managed to turn this depressing experience into one which reflected the true reality and revealed her insight. Ruth knew that it was important to preserve her dignity, and by viewing her situation in a positive light, showing us reality, and revealing the secret of tzedaka, she proved herself worthy of the title Chazal bestowed upon her, The Mother of Royalty.


Boaz provided Ruth with a significant amount of food that might last Ruth and Naomi a week or more, but Ruth provided Boaz with a mitzva and its consequent eternal reward. Thus we can see that Ruth gave much more to Boaz than he gave to her.


Because Boaz gave Ruth tzedaka,[2] he became a tzaddik.[3] In the process he received an eternal reward for the temporal benefit he had given to Ruth.


Boaz was justified by his emunah, his faithful obedience to HaShem and His Torah, as we read in the Nazarean codicil:[4]


Romans 5:1-2 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Yeshua Mashiach: 2  By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.


My Teacher, Hakham Dr. Yosef ben Haggai, has translated this passage in a very poignant manner:


Romans 5:1-2  Therefore being made charitable by faithful obedience, let us have Shalom with G-d by (the example of) our Master Yeshuah the Mashiach;2 By him we have been brought by faithful obedience into his grace (the Torah) wherein we stand, and are proud of the hope of the shekinah of G-d.


Now we can understand the words of Rambam in his commentary to the Mishna in:


Pirkei Avot 3:19 All is judged according to the number of deeds.


Rambam explains that it is better to give one dollar of charity one hundred times, than one hundred dollars one time. The more times a person acts in a way that is meritorious and like HaShem, the more he conditions himself to the performance of mitzvot and purifies his neshama. Tzedaka is not performed for the poor person’s sake, but rather to enable the giver to emulate HaShem and merit the Olam HaBa[5] and the rewards that belong to the one who gives tzedaka.




The KJV uses the word “justification“ and “justify” to translate the Hebrew word tzedek and its highest attainment: tzedaka.


“Tzedaka” is the Hebrew word normally translated as “charity” in English, but the connotation of the two words are very different. “Charity” suggests magnamity, a generous act by those who have, which benefits those who do not have. “Tzedaka”, on the other hand, comes from the Hebrew root, “tzedek”, which means justice or fairness. Giving to the poor is not viewed in Judaism as an altruistic, generous act. It is instead seen as an act of justice and righteousness; doing one’s duty by giving to the poor what is due to them. We understand that the reason I have more than I need, is because HaShem gave me the poor man’s money to hold until the need was revealed. Therefore, when the need is revealed, justice requires me to give the poor man HIS money that was entrusted to me.


It is every Jew’s obligation to give “Tzedaka”, to give to the poor and to support community institutions. The spiritual benefit of giving to the poor is so great that the poor person actually does the giver a a great kindness by giving him a chance to do this mitzva. Thus does Ruth state:


Ruth 2:19 And her mother in law said unto her, Where hast thou gleaned to day? and where wroughtest thou? blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee. And she shewed her mother in law with whom she had wrought, and said, The man’s name with whom I wrought to day is Boaz.


There is a folk saying that goes: “A fool gives and a wise man takes”. A fool who gives tzedaka thinks that he is giving, while a wise man who gives realizes that he is taking, he is the one who benefits the most from his act of giving.


The word tzedaka comes from the Hebrew root tzedek, “justice”, according to Strong’s Concordance. Tzedaka, the Hebrew word for helping the poor, strangers, widows, and orphans is often translated as “charity.” However, the Hebrew root tzedek should be translated as “justice” or “fairness”. What is the connection between giving to the poor and justice? To begin to answer this question, lets examine what the torah teaches us about how we are to give charity to the poor. The Torah also teaches us the reason why we are obligated to give.


Vayikra (Leviticus) 19:9-10 And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and stranger; I am the Lord your God.


Devarim (Deuteronomy) 4:19-22 When you cut down your harvest in your field, and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go again to fetch it; it shall be for the stranger, for the orphan, and for the widow; that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands... And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this thing.


Devarim (Deuteronomy) 15:7-9 If there shall be a needy person among you, any of your brethren in any of your cities, in the Land that HaShem, your God, gives you, you shall not harden your heart or close your hand against your destitute brother. Rather, you shall open your hand to him; you shall lend him his requirement, whatever is lacking to him. Beware lest there be a lawless thought in your heart, saying, “The seventh year approaches, the remission year”, and you will look malevolently upon your destitute brother and refuse to give him - then he may appeal against you to HaShem, and it will be a sin upon you.


Devarim (Deuteronomy) 19:28-29 At the end of three years you shall bring forth all the tithe of your produce in that year, and shall lay it up inside your gates... and the stranger, and the orphan, and the widow, who are inside your gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.


Thus we see that tzadaka is an obligation, not an option! We can also see that charity is but a particular application of justice. From Judaism’s perspective, therefore, one who gives tzedaka is acting justly; One who doesn’t, is acting unjustly. And Torah views this lack of justice as not only mean-­spirited but also illegal.


Every person is required to give tzedaka according to his ability. Even a poor person who is himself supported by tzedaka, must give tzedaka. A person who can only give a little should not hesitate to give, because a little from him is like a great deal from a wealthier person. We are all obligated to seek justice!


According to Maimonides, in his seminal work, the Mishne Torah, Zerayim, Laws of Contributions to the Poor, Chapter 10:7-14, there are eight levels of Tzedaka, each one higher than the other. Maimonides’ eight levels of giving arranged from best to least good:


  1. Give the recipient the wherewithal to become self-supporting. The highest one of all is when one takes the hand of one from Israel and gives him a gift or a loan, or engages him in a partnership, or finds him work by which he can stand on his own and not require any charity. Thus it is written: “And you strengthened the stranger who lives with you.” i.e. strengthen him so he won’t fall and need your help.
  2. Neither the donor nor the recipient knows the other.
  3. The donor knows the recipient but the recipient is unaware of the donor.
  4. The recipient knows the donor but the donor does not know the recipient.
  5. The donor gives without being solicited.
  6. The donor gives after being solicited.
  7. The donor gives less than he should but does so cheerfully.
  8. The donor is pained by the act of giving.


Performing tzedaka, deeds of justice, is the most important obligation that HaShem imposes on His people, as we can see from the following pasukim:


Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:20 Tzedek (justice), tzedek (justice) you shall pursue,


The Sages of the Talmud also taught this understanding:


Bava Bathra 9b “Tzedaka is equal to all the other commandments combined”


From the Torah’s perspective, therefore, one who gives tzedaka is justified and has justification. Without tzedaka one is not justified and he has not obtained justification. Justification is what happens when we do the right thing. Justification is rendered by the judge when he determines that an individual has done the right thing and acted justly. Giving tzedaka is the highest form of “doing the right thing”.


It is also possible to perform charity in order to receive forgiveness for sin. This is an effective method of repentance (provided one abandons one’s sins as well), and is noted by the prophet:


Daniel 4:27 Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by doing righteousness (tzedaka), and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.


To hammer this point home, lets examine a few of the common passages on justification. We will look at a couple of translations and also Hakham Dr. Yosef ben Haggai’s translation:


Romans 3:19-31


King James (Authorized) Version

Murphy’s New Testament from the Peshitta (Aramaic Bible)

Hakham Dr. Yosef ben Haggai Translation

19 ¶  Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

19 ¶  Now we know, that whatever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world be guilty before God.

19 Now, we know that whatever the Torah says, it is said to those who are under the yoke of the Torah, so that every (Gentile) mouth may be shut, and all the Gentile world may become guilty before G-d.

20  Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

20  Wherefore, by the deeds of the law, no flesh is justified before him: for, by the law, sin is known.

20 Wherefore, by strict obedience to the Written Torah, no flesh is made charitable before His (G-d’s) presence, for by the strict adherence to the Written Torah, sin is known.

21  But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

21  But now, the righteousness of God without the law, is manifested; and the law and the prophets testify of it:

21 But now, the charity (Tsedakah) of G-d outside the Written Torah is manifested and the very Written Torah and the Prophets testify to it;

22  Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Yeshua Mashiach unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

22  even the righteousness of God, which is by faith in Yeshua Mashiach, for every one, and on every one, that believeth in him: for there is no distinction;

22 But the charity (Tsedakah) of G-d is by the faithful obedience of the Yeshuah the Mashiach to everyone (amongst the Gentiles); also to every (Gentile) man who faithfully obeys him, for there is no discrimination;

23  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

23  for they have all sinned, and failed of the glory of God.

23 For all have sinned and are short of the glory of G-d;

24  Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Mashiach Yeshua:

24  And they are justified gratuitously, by grace, and by the redemption which is in Yeshua Mashiach;

24 For they (the Gentiles) are freely given charity (Tsedakah) by the grace (Torah) of G-d, through the deliverance which is in Yeshuah the Mashiach,

25  Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

25  whom God hath preconstituted a propitiation, by faith in his blood, because of our sins, which we before committed,

25 Whom G-d has foreordained to be a propitiation through faithful obedience in his life for the remission of our sins that are past.

26  To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Yeshua.

26  in the space which God in his long suffering gave to us, for the manifestation of his righteousness at the present time; that he might be righteous, and might with righteousness justify him who is in the faith of our Lord Yeshua Mashiach.

26 By the opportunity which G-d has given us though His forbearance, for the manifestion of His Chessed at the present time, that he might be declared a Tsadik; and for Chessed of Charitableness to him who is in the faithful obedience of our master Yeshua the Mashiach

27  Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

27  Where then is glorying? It is annihilated. By what law? by that of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

27 Where is boasting then? It is worthless. By what principle? Of strict adherence to the Written Torah? No, but by the principle of faithful obedience.

28  Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

28  We therefore conclude, that it is by faith a man is justified, and not by the works of the law.

28 Therefore we conclude that it is by faithful obedience that a man (Gentile) becomes charitable and not by strict adherence to the Written Torah.

29  Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:

29  For, is he the God of the Jews only, and not of the Gentiles? Nay: of the Gentiles also.

29 Why? Is G-d the G-d of the Jews only (who have the Oral Torah)? Is He not also G-d of the Gentiles? Yes, He is G-d of the Gentiles also (that they may also partake of the grace of the Oral Torah).

30  Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.

30  Because there is, one God, who justifieth the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision by the same faith.

30 For it is one G-d, Who renders charitable the Jews by faithful obedience, and the Gentiles by the same faithful obedience.



31  Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

31  Do, we then nullify the law by faith? Far be it. On the contrary, we establish the law.

31 What then? Do we nullify the Written Torah by this faithful obedience (to the Oral Torah)? G-d forbid! On the contrary, we establish the Written Torah!



Text of Romans 4:17 – 5:21


King James (Authorized Version)


Murphy’s New Testament from the Peshitta (Aramaic Bible) – (brackets are my additions) – Romans 4:17- 5:5

Hakham Dr. Yosef ben Haggai’s translation.


17 ¶  (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations), before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

17 ¶  as it is written: “I have constituted thee a father to a multitude of nations;” namely before G-d, in whom you have believed (faithfully obeyed); Who quickens the dead, and calls those things which are not, as if they were.


17 As it is written, I have made you a father of many peoples (nations),. In the presence of the one G-d in whom you have faithfully obeyed, Who quickens the dead and who calls those who are yet not in being, as though they were present.

18  Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.

18 And without hope, he (Avraham) confided in the hope of becoming the father of a multitude of nations; (as it is written: So will thy seed be.)


18 For he who was hopeless trusted in hope, that he might become the father of many peoples (nations); as it is written: “so shall your descendants be.”

19  And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb:   

19  And he was not sickly in his faith (faithful obedience), while contemplating his inert body, (for he was a hundred years old,) and the inert womb of Sarah.

19 His faithful obedience never weakened even when he saw his old body when he was a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.

20  He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;

20  And he did not hesitate at the promise of G-d, as one lacking faith (faithful obedience); but he was strong in faith (faithful obedience), and gave glory to Gd,

20. He did not doubt the promise of G-d as one who lacks faithful obedience, but his faithful obedience strengthened him, and he gave glory to G-d.

21  And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

21  and felt assured, that what G-d had promised to him, He (G-d) was able to fulfill.



21 He felt assured that what G-d had promised him, G-d was able to fulfill.


22  And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.


22  And therefore it was accounted to him for righteousness (charitableness).

22 Therefore his faithful obedience was accounted to him for charitableness (tsedakah).

23 ¶  Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;

23 ¶  And not for his sake alone, was it written, that his faith (faithful obedience) was accounted for righteousness (charitableness);

23 That his faithful obedience was accounted to him for charitableness (tsedakah) was not written for his sake alone,

24  But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Yeshua our Lord from the dead;

24  but for our sakes also; because it is to be accounted so to us, who believe in Him (G-d) that raised our Lord Yeshua Mashiach from the dead;

24 But for us also, for He (G-d) will number us also, who faithfully obey Him (G-d) Who raised our Master Yeshua the Mashiach from the dead;

25  Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.


25  who was delivered up, on account of our sins; and arose, that he might justify us (make us charitable).

25 who was delivered up because of our offences and arose that he (Mashiach) might make us charitable/merciful).

1 ¶  Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Yeshua Mashiach:

1 ¶  Therefore, because we are justified (made charitable) by faith (faithful obedience), we shall have peace with G-d, through our Lord Yeshua Mashiach.

1 Therefore being made charitable by faithful obedience, let us have Shalom with G-d by (the example of) our Master Yeshuah the Mashiach;


2  By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

2  By whom we are brought by faith (faithful obedience) into this grace (Torah), in which we stand and rejoice in the hope of the glory of G-d.

2 By him we have been brought by faithful obedience into his grace (the Torah) wherein we stand, and are proud of the hope of the shekinah of G-d.

3  And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

3  And not only so, but we also rejoice in afflictions; because we know that affliction perfects in us patience;

3 And not only so, but we also glory in our tribulations; knowing that tribulation perfects patience in us;

4  And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

4 and patience, experience; and experience, hope:



4  and patience, experience; and experience, hope.

5  And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

5  and hope makes not ashamed because the love of G-d is diffused in our hearts, by the Holy Spirit who is given to us.

5 And hope causes no one to be ashamed; because the love (Ahavah/Chessed) of G-d is poured into your hearts by the Ruach HaQodesh which is give to us (Jews).


6 ¶  For when we were yet without strength, in due time Mashiach died for the ungodly.

6 ¶  And if at this time, on account of our weakness, Mashiach died for the ungodly:

6. But Mesiah at this time, because of our weaknesses, died for the sake of the wicked.


7  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

7  (for rarely doth one die for the ungodly; though for the good, some one perhaps might venture to die:)

7. Hardly would any man die for the sake of the wicked; but for the sake of the good, one might be willing to die.


8  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Mashiach died for us.

8  God hath here manifested his love towards us. Because, if when we were sinners, Mashiach died for us;

8. G-d has here manifested His love towards us, in that whilst we were yet sinners he died for us.


9  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

9  how much more, shall we now be justified (made charitable) by his blood (life) and be rescued from wrath by him?

9. Much more then being made charitable by his life, we shall be delivered from wrath through him.


10  For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

10  For if when we were enemies, God was reconciled with us by the death of his Son; how much more shall we, in his reconciliation, live by his life?

10. For if we were enemies we were reconciled to G-d by the death of His son, much more, being reconciled we will be saved by his life.


11  And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Yeshua Mashiach, by whom we have now received the atonement.

11  And not only so, but we also rejoice in God, by means of our Lord Yeshua Mashiach, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

11. And not only so, but we also glory in G-d through our Master Yeshuah the Mashiach, by whom we have now received the reconciliation.


12  Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

12  As by means of one man, sin entered into the world, and, by means of sin, death; and so death passed upon all the sons of men, inasmuch as they all have sinned:

12. Just as sin entered into the world by one man, and death  by means of sin, so death was imposed upon all men, inasmuch as they all have sinned.


13  (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

 13  For until the law, sin, although it was in the world, was not accounted sin, because there was no law.

13. For until the law was given, though sin was in the world it was not considered sin because there was no law.


14  Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

14  Yet death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned after the likeness of the transgression of the command by Adam, who was the type of him that was to come.

14. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them who had not sinned in the manner of the transgression of the law by Adam, who is the likeness (image) of him who was to come.


15  But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Yeshua Mashiach, hath abounded unto many.

15  But not, as the fault, so also the free gift. For if, on account of the fault of one, many died; how much more, will the grace (the Torah) of God and his free gift, on account of one man, Yeshua Mashiach, abound unto many (Gentiles)?

15. But the measure of the gift of G-d was not the measure of the fall. If therefore, because of the fall of one, many died, how much more will the grace (Torah) and gift of G-d, because of one man, Yeshuah the Mashiach, be increased for the many (Gentiles)?


16  And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.

16  And not, as the offence of one, so also the free gift. For the judgment, which was of one offence, was unto condemnation; but the free gift was, of many sins, unto righteousness (charity).





16. And the effect of the gift of G-d was greater than the effect of the offence of Adam; for while the judgment of one man’s offence resulted in condemnation of many, the gift of G-d in forgiveness of sins resulted in charity to the many (Gentiles).


17  For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Yeshua Mashiach.)

17  For if, on account of the offence of one, death reigned; still more, they who receive the abundance of the grace (Torah), and the free gift, and the righteousness (charity), will reign in life, by means of one, Yeshua Mashiach.

17 For if one man’s offence, death reigned, how much more those (the Gentiles) who received abundance of grace (Torah) and of the gift of charitableness (Tsedekut) shall reign in life by one, Yeshuah the Mashiach.  

18  Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

18  Therefore, as on account of the offence of one, condemnation was to all men; so on account of the righteousness (charity) of one, will the victory unto life be to all men.

18 In like manner as by one man’s offence condemnation came upon all men, even so by the charitableness (Tsedekut) of one man will the victory to life be to all men.

19  For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

19  For as; on account of the disobedience (to Torah) of one man, many became sinners; so also, on account of the obedience (to Torah) of one, many (Gentiles) become righteous (charitable).

19 For as by one man’s disobedience (to the Torah) many were made sinners, so by the obedience (to the Torah) of one man shall many (Gentiles) be made charitable.

20  Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

20  And the entrance given to the law, was that sin might increase (amongst the Gentiles): and where sin increased (amongst the Gentiles), there grace (the Torah) abounded.

20 The introduction of the Torah caused sin to increase (amongst the Gentiles) and when sin had increased (amongst the Gentiles), grace (Torah) became abundant (to them).

21  That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Yeshua Mashiach our Lord.

21  So that, as sin had reigned in death, so grace (Torah) might reign in righteousness (charity) unto life eternal, by means of our Lord Yeshua Mashiach.

21 Just as sin had reigned through death, so grace (Torah) shall reign through charitableness to eternal life by our Master Yeshuah the Mashiach.


1347 dikaiwsiv dikaiosis dik-ah’-yo-sis from 1344

Thayer’s[6] defines this as “Judgement in reference to what is just”. The Septuagint uses this word in: Vayikra (Leviticus) 24:22.


1345 dikaiwma dikaioma dik-ah’-yo-mah from 1344

Thayer’s indicates that the Septuagint uses this word to translate “Chok (command above our logic)”, “Mishpat (cammand that is logical to us)”, or “Mitzva (an intuitive command)”.


The Septuagint uses this word in: Gen.26:5, Exo 15:25-26, Exo.21:1, 21:9, 21:31, 24:3, Lev.25:18, Num.15:16, 27:11, 30:17, 31:21, 35:29, 36:12


1344 dikaiow dikaioo dik-ah-yo’-o from 1342

Thayer indicates that the Septuagint uses this word to translate “Tzedek (Righteousness)”.


Kittel[7] indicates that the roots for each of these words is best expressed with the Hebrew words “tzedek, chesed, tzedaka, and chok”.


The Septuagint uses this word in: Gen.38:26, 44:16, Exo 23:7, Deu.25:1




Now, lets take what we have learned and attempt to understand the following pasuk:


Galatians 3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Yeshua Mashiach might be given to them that believe. 23  But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Mashiach, that we might be justified by faith. 25  But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.


What does this mean? I suggest the following:


Galatians 3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faithful obedience of Yeshua Mashiach might be given to them that believe the Torah. 23  But before faithful obedience came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faithful obedience which should afterwards be revealed. 24  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Mashiach, that we might stand before the judge and shown to ne just because of our faithful obedience. 25  But after we were faithfully obedient, we no longer require a schoolmaster to force us to be obedient.


An incident recorded in the Torah shows us how potent it is for us to understand that tzedaka benefits the giver more than the receiver[8]:


Shemot (Exodus) 25:2 “Take for Me an offering


The donations requested of Bnei Israel for the construction of the Mishkan are described as being taken rather than given. Moreover, HaShem is the Master of the Universe and all that it contains. Did He need contributions and materials from human beings to construct His Mishkan?


The purpose of the contributions was to enable Bnei Israel to participate in the construction of the Mishkan. Thus the giving was in fact a receiving. That is why HaShem said, “Take for me an offering.”


The Nesi’im, the heads of the tribes, responded to the call for contributions for the Mishkan by declaring that they would donate what ever was still needed after the rest of Bnei Israel gave all that they could. In the end, all that was left to bring were the precious stones for the Ephod and the Choshen,[9] the oil and the spices for the incense and the Menorah.[10] The Nesi’im were admonished for conducting themselves in this manner and the yud (י) was removed their title in:


Shemot (Exodus) 35:27 And the Nesi’im brought onyx stones, and stones to be set, for the ephod, and for the breastplate;


The Nesi’im misunderstood the purpose of the giving. There was no deficit to be made up. HaShem has no deficit. The giving was an opportunity for self-development, the purification of one’s soul through attachment to a holy undertaking. Approaching the mitzva as if HaShem needs our contributions was ludicrous.


In this light, we can appreciate the significance of the deletion of the “yud” from the title of the Nesi’im. With a “yud”, the word Nesi’im denotes “those that carry”. Without the “yud”, the vowels can be rearranged to read “Nis’aim”- those that are carried. The “yud” was removed to instruct them that, though they viewed themselves as making up the shortfall, they were in reality being carried by the merit of the mitzva!


This principle is further illustrated in the carrying of the holy ark in the wilderness. The staves with which the holy ark was carried, represent the supporters of Torah, those who give  tzedaka. They are an intrinsic part of the Torah community, inseparable from the Torah scholars, just as the staves could not be removed from the ark. But the Levites, of the house of Kohath, who carried the ark were miraculously lifted off the ground and literally carried by the ark itself!!! Their apparent support was in reality that which supported them. Thus we see in the following Midrash:


Sotah 35a When the last of the Israelites ascended from the Jordan, the waters returned to their place; as it is said: And it came to pass, when the priests that bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord were come up out of the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priestsfeet were lifted up unto the dry ground, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and went over all its banks, as aforetime. Consequently the ark and its bearers and the priests were on one side [of the Jordan] and the Israelites on the other! The ark carried its bearers and passed over [the river]; as it is said: And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over, that the ark of the Lord passed over, and the priests, in the presence of the people. On that account was Uzza punished, as it is said: And when they came unto the threshing-floor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, ‘Uzza, [the ark] carried its bearers; must it not all the more [be able to carry] itself!’


The following true story makes our point in an especially poignant manner:


After his marriage, Rabbi Eliezer Gordon, the founder of the Telshe Yeshiva, was supported by his father-in-law, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Neviezer, so that he could devote himself fully to Torah learning and develop into a gadol. As his family began to grow, and he was offered various rabbinical positions, Reb Eliezer sought to relieve his father-in-law of this financial burden. He asked his permission to accept a rabbinical position and begin to support himself. Despite difficult financial times, Reb Avraham Yitzchak refused to permit him to do so. When Reb Avraham Yitzchak’s wife asked him how long he intended to support their daughter and son-in-law’s family, he responded, “My dear wife, who knows who is supporting whom...” Finally the prestigious rabbinical position in Eisheshok was offered to Reb Eliezer, and his father-in-law could no longer detain him. The day after the Gordon family left for Eisheshok, Reb Avraham Yitzchak died. It then became clear who had been supporting whom.


Chazal[11] tell us that we will be redeemed through the merit of tzedaka. May we recognize the great opportunity offered us when we are called upon to support Torah institutions, Torah scholars, and the poor, and thereby merit redemption!


Givers and Receivers


Giver:             The wealthy.[12]

Receiver:        The poor.[13]


We have discussed these givers and receivers extensively in this study already, but there are more “givers”:


Giver:             HaShem.

Receivers:      All people.


Giver:             Heaven.

Receiver:        Earth.


Man wants control over the heavens because it is the heavens that provide the inputs he requires to enrich his earthly life. The essence of belief in HaShem, is the knowledge that it is HaShem who is the source of all being and energy. A created world is not assembled out of pre-existing materials. It is fashioned out of Divine energy. Even the “natural processes” of such a world must all be fueled by fresh inputs of Divine energy.


This constant input of Divine energy is called the “heavens” in the very first verse in Genesis:


Bereshit (Genesis) 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 


Heavens” is the generic term used by the Torah to express the idea of “giver” (or energy source), whereas the “earth” is the generic term for the idea of “receiver.”


Giver:             Males

Receiver:        Females


The above example can be clarified by examining the act of marriage (sexual intercourse). In this act the man gives sperm to the woman who receives it and nourishes it until a child is born.


The idea of a male being the “giver” helps us understand why the Torah always refers to HaShem in the masculine. Clearly, HaShem receives nothing from us while He gives us everything. Thus we understand that we are not being sexist when we speak of HaShem as a male, rather we are expressing the direction of the giving.


* * *




Now that we understand the definition of righteousness, lets examine the opposite of righteousness, which is ‘wickedness’.


The one who is wicked will always take from others. In some cases this obvious. For example, a man who commits murder has taken another man’s life. A thief takes another man’s property.


There are other forms of wickedness that are not so obvious, but are still extremely wicked. Consider the one who sees the preparations for the Passover seder, yet remains seated and does not help out. This one has taken the labors and time of others. He has literally stolen a part of their lives. In this way we can understand that a lazy person is killing people in a very subtle manner.


If you examine every sin in the scriptures, you will find that at their root they are all ‘taking’ from either HaShem or from others. It is no exageration to say that those who do not give are wicked. To put it another way: The definition of wickedness is the taking of time, material, and labors of others.


Failure to give is the very definition of evil!



* * *


This study was written by Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David

(Greg Killian).

Comments may be submitted to:


Rabbi Dr. Greg Killian

4544 Highline Drive SE

Olympia, WA 98501


Internet address:  gkilli@aol.com

Web page:  http://www.betemunah.org/


(360) 918-2905


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[1] The Hebrew word “mitzva” (מִצְוָה‎‎) is used in the Torah to describe those who obey the commands of HaShem and incur the eternal reward that comes to those who obey HaShem’s commands.

[2] Justice – Boaz merely gave Ruth what HaShem had given him to hold for her.

[3] A righteous and just man.

[4] Also known as the “New Testament” which is neither “new”, nor a “testament”.

[5] Olam HaBa – Lit. “the world to Come”. This is the world that awaits the righteous after this world.

[6] “Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament”, by Joseph H. Thayer

[7] “Theological Dictionary of the New Testament”, Gerhard Kittel editor

[8] Rabbi Zev Leff provided these excellent illustrations

[9] The Breastplate of the High Priest.

[10] The seven branched candleabra in the Temple.

[11] Our Sages

[12] He has more than he needs.

[13] He has less than he needs.