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    We don’t make a blessing – B’har

    beg charity poor homeless mendicant tzedakahB’har is where we meet the fundamental principle of charity: “If your brother has become poor, and his strength has dwindled beside you, then you shall uphold him” (Lev. 25:35).

    Note the words, “your brother” – despite his problems he is still your brother; “beside you” – do not wait until he pleads for assistance, but support him as soon as he shows signs of falling.

    These are some of the ways in which Rashi and the other commentators explain the verse.

    Supporting a fellow being, not just with money but in attitude and every other way, is tzedakah, and it is a mitzvah of the Torah, a requirement of Judaism, a duty commanded by God.

    But is it not strange that there is a b’rachah for washing the hands, for kindling the Shabbat lights, for reading the Megillah, for hearing the shofar – but no b’rachah for giving tzedakah?

    There are many possible reasons. You cannot quantify tzedakah; where the duty begins and ends cannot be precisely defined and thus your fulfilment of the mitzvah cannot be measured.

    There are many ways of carrying out the mitzvah – giving money, helping the person find employment, providing business contacts, simply calling him “brother”; tzedakah takes many forms.

    Avraham ben David of Posquieres, the 12th-century rabbi, says that tzedakah involves humiliating the recipient: making a b’rachah implies that we are praising God for the degradation of a fellow human being.

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