Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Paying the Pledge

It is easy to pledge money to an organization. There are an astounding number of well-intentioned non-profits that send mailings, or solicit donations over the phone. There are also pledges that are made “casually” on certain occasions, such as in synagogue after being given an honor during the service.

It is not always so easy to remember to fulfill such pledges. Donor based non-profits all have specific pledge reminder mailings designed solely to help donors remember to send the money they promised.. It is generally assumed that most people are sincere when they promise to donate. People get busy and just forget, and that is totally understandable.

Charity is very important in Jewish life. In fact, in addition to the general concept of doing a kind act to help another person, Judaism also has specific, required tithes that Jews must fulfill that are spread out over a period of three years. These include Maaser Rishon (the first tithe, given to the Levite and the Kohain), Maaser Shaynee (the second tithe set aside for consumption at the Temple) and Maaser Oni (the tithe for the poor).

In Deuteronomy 26, the Torah notes an interesting law related to the giving of the Maaser tithes: “Then (at the end of the three year tithe period) you shall say before the Lord your God: ‘I have put away the hallowed things out of my house, and also have given them to the Levite, and to the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all Your commandment which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed any of Your commandments, neither have I forgotten them” (Deuteronomy 26:13). This declaration continues on to state that nothing pledged for Maaser was taken or used improperly and expresses a desire for God to bless the land.

Although, the Jewish people are no longer able to tithe in the proper fashion as was done in the days of the Temple, nevertheless, giving charity remains a priority and fulfilling our pledges is immensely important.

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