As a young child, the Kotzker Rebbe is quoted as asking how Klal Yisroel in the Wilderness were able to fulfill the mitzva of tzedaka if they had everything they needed with the manna. However, they don't report an answer - how did the Jews fulfill this mitzva after matan Torah in the Wilderness? (If there was no obligation to give tzedaka, then what was the Kotzer Rebbe's question?)

  • Tzedakah isn't only with food. Pshat Es Yadcha means to give your fellow money to help him with anything... could've been korach gave people money because they needed it to buy someone's time or the like...
    – TwoOs
    Commented Jul 7, 2020 at 14:37
  • @TwoOs Interesting, thank you for sharing - what kinds of tings were Klal Yisroel able to buy in the Wilderness?
    – NJM
    Commented Jul 7, 2020 at 15:37
  • Other people time
    – TwoOs
    Commented Jul 7, 2020 at 22:00
  • There definitely was poor Ppl then, as we know korach was rich ..
    – TwoOs
    Commented Jul 7, 2020 at 22:01

3 Answers 3


On "Shrub is burning in Kotzk" (סנה בוער בקוצק), The Kotzker also gives the answer to his still-shocked teacher:

"The Israelites did tzadaka (charity) with Da'at (knowledge)"

  • Fascinating - thank you! Do they explain what giving daas meant practically in the Wilderness?
    – NJM
    Commented Jul 7, 2020 at 15:38

I can think of two ways that one could have fulfilled the mitzvah of tzedaka back then.

  1. If one knew someone who needed to travel away from where klal yisroel was encamped and since the manna would have spoiled the next day (and they wouldn't get manna where one was travelling on the way) so giving them some money would be considered tzedaka see shulchan aruch: someone who normally has means but is traveling and is in need during the trip

  2. One could have donated to the mishkan or another public need and that would be tzedaka. See chachmas adam 148

Lastly, just as a thought, instead of doing tzedaka, one could have replaced that mitzvah with doing chesed which the gemarah calls it greater than doing tzedaka and one can do it to rich people (fellow klal yisroel who had manna to eat) as well. See gemarah succah 49b

  • Interesting - thank you! I didn't know people might have needed to travel away from Klal while in the Wilderness. I believe Yisro received mann when he joined Moshe and Aharon.
    – NJM
    Commented Jul 7, 2020 at 15:42

I saw somewhere that the Gerrer Rebbe also asks this question. He answer that there is a Midrash that the Manna tasted like whatever one imagined. Many Israelites in Egypt had experienced a limited repertoire of foods. So those who had eaten an unusual food could share their recollections. In a way they gave charity. Which shows us that charity is not only material it is also charity, Tzedakah, when we share our imagination with someone.

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