Charity (Tzedakah): Charity Throughout Jewish History

The Bible itself legislates several laws which are in effect a sort of tax for the benefit of the poor. Among these are leket, shikhḥah, and pe’ah as well as the special tithe for the poor (see ma’aser ). The institution of the sabbatical year (see Sabbatical Year and Jubilee) was in order “that the poor of the people may eat” (Ex. 23: 11) as well as to cancel debts about which the warning was given: “If there be among you a needy man, one of your brethren, within thy gates, in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thy heart nor shut thy hand from thy needy brother;