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Tzedkah: A Loan without Interest

Shabbat Mishpatim -- February 6, 2016

Tzedakah: What else can it be?

     We mostly think of Tzedakah as charitable giving. Donations to worthy organizations, clothing for the homeless, food for the hungry, etc. These are worthy endeavors, but the concept of charity in Judaism is broader and deeper than that. The broader concept of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) embodies the principle of creating a place, a society, that not only nurtures everyone, but provides them with the tools to thrive.
     Lending money is not only an act of tzedakah, but it is a means of fulfilling the highest form of charity according to Maimonides’ eight levels of giving, "to help sustain a person before they become impoverished by…extending a suitable loan...so as to make it unnecessary for them to become dependent on others."

Exodus 22:24, as noted above, exhorts us not to impose interest on loans to the needy. The Hebrew Free Loan Association of Greater Washington has been lending interest free since 1909 to help Jewish residents of the DC metro area establish themselves, become successful, and thrive, with dignity and discretion. This is our tzedakah, and our mission.

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