Great Questions

Just what, exactly, is צדקה (tzedakah)? What is חסד (chessed – kindness)? We’re building understanding of each concept.

This week, Nitzanim children asked great questions:

  1. Can you do צדקה (tzedakah) or חסד (chessed) by accident?
  2. Can you do צדקה (tzedakah) without חסד (chessed)?

To explore our opinions, we turned to Maimonides, a famous rabbi from 12th century Spain. (It’s so wonderful when children ask questions that lead us straight into Jewish content we educators had hoped to introduce!)

Based on Maimonides’ “ladder” of צדקה (tzedakah), we played a game in which children decided how much חסד (chessed) a person was using when s/he gave צדקה (tzedakah), by standing on a taped ladder on the floor. For example, what if someone poor asks you for money, and you sort of throw it at him, saying roughly, “Here’s some צדקה (tzedakah)”? Children stood near the small חסד (chessed) end.

  • “It’s scary, mean, and not חסד (chessed) at all.”
  • “It [צדקה (tzedakah)] is kind of חסד (chessed). Even if you give meanly, it’s still חסד (chessed).”

 One idea echoed by several children was, “You shouldn’t be embarrassed if someone you know gave you צדקה (tzedakah).”


  1. It is such a joy for a grandparent who lives far away to see the beautiful and thought-provoking things you do at the JEC. Thank you!
    Tom & Lois Ruby, Albuquerque, NM

    1. You’re welcome! We’re so glad you can be part of your grandchildren’s Jewish learning, even though you live in another city.

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