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ẒEDAḲAH BOX:

A receptacle in which voluntary charitable contributions are deposited. Theearliest mention of such a device is in connection with Jehoiada the priest, who prepared a chest with a hole in the lid and placed it beside the altar opposite the general entrance at the south side of the Temple; in this chest all contributions were deposited to form a fund for repairing the sacred edifice (II Kings xii. 10). According to the Mishnah, there were in the Second Temple thirteen boxes shaped like a horn ("shofar"), being broad at the bottom and narrow at the top, where the coins were dropped in. The money placed in them was used for different sacrifices in the Temple and for charitable purposes. In later times the charity box was called "kuppah shel ẓedaḳah," i.e., charity basket, or receptacle for the communal fund contributed to provide sustenance for the poor every Friday (Pe'ah viii. 7; B. B. 8b).

Wooden Ẓedaḳah Box in the Synagogue at Lutomiersk, Russia.(From Bersohn, "Kilka Slow.")

From time immemorial the synagogue and bet ha-midrash were provided with sets of charity boxes, each bearing an inscription designating the purpose for which the money was collected. Among these boxes were one for "bedeḳ ha-bayit" (repairs of the synagogue), one for candles in the bet ha-midrash, a third for the Talmud Torah, a fourth for "malbish 'arummim" (= "to clothe the naked," i.e., to provide clothing for the poor), and a fifth for "gemilat ḥasadim" (loans without interest to the poor). One special box was marked "mattan ba-seter" (= "a gift in secret"; comp. Prov. xxi. 14), in which large sums were often placed by anonymous donors, who sometimes specified how the money should be distributed. The charity boxes were under the supervision of a board of trustees called "gabba'im." A charity box is carried in front of a funeral by the shammash (beadle), who recites "Ẓedaḳah taẓẓil mi-mawet" (= "Righteousness [charity] delivereth from death"; Prov. x. 2). Charity boxes are also placed in private houses for the support of the yeshibot, hospitals, orphan asylums, etc., of the Holy Land, the funds being collected by the meshullaḥim of the various institutions. See Charity; Ḥaluḳḳah.

Ẓedaḳah Box.(Designed by Leo Horovitz.)J. J. D. E.
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