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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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Question 12.31:
How does tithing work in Judaism?


The Torah requires tithing from every crop grown in Israel, not other income. There is a custom, which perhaps is a Rabbinic Law (there is a difference of opinion about it) to tithe 10% of one's net income to helping others. This excludes the synagogue, religious education for your own kids (but might include the extra tuition required to cover those on scholarship)—that is, it is just for helping those in need.

The biblical obligation to tithe involved a number of portions to be given out:

In addition, farmers had other charities they had to give. The first is called leket: if, while harvesting, one or two stalks fall at once, the owner must leave them for the poor to gather. Over the course of an entire field, this will add up. There was also Shich'cha: if one or two sheaves were forgotten in the field when the harvest was brought in, those too must be left. Lastly, there was Pei'ah—ne corner of each field must be left for the poor to harvest.

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

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