Is tithing still relevant today? Is it solely giving to the church that we attend every week or we can give to other needs (needy relatives, needy pastors from poor countries…) If we apportion the 10% to our church + needy relative + needy pastors, are we sinning against God?
My husband gives to our parents instead of giving tithing because he feels that taking care of parents is a type of giving too. A relative has just lost her job and we thought of giving a part of the tithe to help tide her over.
I feel guilty if I don’t give my full 10% to God by giving only to my home church but my church is a mega church and it receives a lot of tithing and offerings.
Thanks for teaching us the real meaning of tithing based on your understanding of Hebrew and ancient Jewish wisdom.
The idea of being charitable is so common in both religious Jewish and Christian circles that we may not appreciate how amazing that is. Many Americans chuckled at a series of PSAs – Public Service Announcements – that ran a few years ago, encouraing people to give 5% of their income to charity. Millions of ordinary people routinely and without second thought, tithe – giving away a tenth of their earnings based on Biblical principles. In fact, they don’t even see it as their money. The way we sometimes put it, is that we are glad to work for a Boss who gives us a 90% commission.
With that introduction, different religious groups encourage slightly different methods of giving. We cannot tell you what to do. Each person should affiliate with one spiritual approach and act accordingly. We can only describe what happens in Jewish circles.
In accordance with God’s commands, traditional Jews are not allowed to handle money on Saturdays, the Sabbath, or on holy days. These are the very days that attract largest synagogue attendance. Yet, there can be no offering or passing around of a basket for tithes. Instead, most synagogues have a membership fee, though they encourage people to give beyond and above that. We pay some or all of that annual fee out of the tithe we owe but it would be most unusual for anyone’s entire tithe to go to their synagogue.
We would like to comment on your statement that your church doesn’t need your money because it is so big. If this is where you worship and the pastors there are serving you, then it would be spiritually unhealthy for you to be only a taker and not a giver. You are asking if your entire tithe needs to go there, which we cannot answer since we come from a different religious approach, but to give nothing would be inadvisable.
General charitable guidelines were recorded by Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) and they tend to be followed until this day. Among other things, these guidelines rank helping someone gain an independent livelihood as more praiseworthy than simply giving a hand-out. The guidelines also prioritize giving locally to one’s family and community before giving to strangers and distant communities.
Sometimes, charities that are categorized under tax law are also valid for tithing, while other times they are not. Likewise, to use America as an example, while the IRS might not consider helping out a struggling neighbor to be deductible, the money would be considered as part of a tithe under a Jewish understanding.
In the Lord’s language, the word for tithe actually means one tenth. Interestingly enough, the word also hints at wealth. The implication is that by tithing, one not only helps others but also advances oneself towards greater wealth, not as a quid pro quo but in ways we describe in a chapter on the subject in our book, Buried Treasure: Secrets for Living from the Lord’s Language.
Imagine what a world we would live in if everyone valued earning money and voluntarily and thoughtfully gave 10% or even a little more of what they made.
We hope this helps you and your husband give joyously,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin
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