Sacred Giving: How? (Private-Religious)

6, 7, 8

This lesson provides learners with a deeper understanding of the concept of giving tzedakah utilizing primary source materials to identify the manner in which the commandment is to be performed. Learners are then asked to identify behavioral guidelines from the values expressed in the texts. An optional component asks learners to plan and perform a tzedakah project in keeping with the values studied.

PrintOne-Fifty Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • explain that the way in which tzedakah is performed, matters.
  • explain that tzedakah benefits both the donor and the recipient.
  • cite mitzvot (commandments) that relate to how the mitzvah of tzedakah is to be performed.
  • create a personal response, in the form of a commandment that expresses a Jewish tzedakah tradition.
  • Attachment One: Sacred Giving: A Story
  • Attachment Two: Sacred Giving: How?
  • Attachment Three: The (Any Number of) Commandments of Tzedakah
Home Connection 

The “product” of the assessment activity in Attachment Three: The (Any Number of) Commandments of Tzedakah could be printed and distributed to all families.


  1. Anticipatory set:

    Tell the story using Attachment One: Sacred Giving: A Story.

    Teacher Note: Telling the story slowly and deliberately is more effective than having learners read it themselves. Introduce the idea that Jewish tradition speaks not just of what we do and why we do it, but how we do it, as well. In our tradition, the ends – no matter how valuable – do not justify the means if they are spiritually destructive.


  2. Distribute Attachment Two: Sacred Giving: How? Point out to the learners that this is a list of famous quotes with which they will be working.

  3. Review all texts with the learners to be certain that learners understand their meaning.

  4. Arrange learners into chevruta, study partners, to do the activity at the end of Attachment Two: Sacred Giving: How?

  5. Review learner responses to the activity. Have them articulate their explanations for the choices they made. Identify the most appropriate responses.

  6. Explain to the learners that we try to act upon our values. Often those actions-based-on-values are expressed in the form of rules or commandments. You might solicit examples from the secular and religious realms, i.e. We believe that we should be safe in our cars. Seat belt use is mandatory. We believe in the sanctity of marriage. Adultery is forbidden in the commandments. We believe that the government should supply certain needs for its citizens. Taxes are required.

  7. Have students express their tzedakah values in the form of commandments. The commandments could be posted or collected and printed in documentary form for each student to take home.


Attachment Three: The (Any Number of) Commandments of Tzedakah may be used as a means of learner assessment.

Cross Curriculum 

Teacher Note: An optional activity is suggested along with Attachment One: Sacred Giving A Story. The activity could be modeled on the sensitivity and kindness – the concern for chesed and kavod – displayed in the story.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Discuss the function of family traditions and role modeling in teaching about sharing and giving.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Examine several examples of philanthropic traditions practiced in diverse cultures.
      2. Benchmark MS.3 Give an example of how philanthropy can transcend cultures.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define and give examples of the motivations for giving and serving.