Every year, Jews in the Diaspora are ranked among the highest charity givers in the US, UK and Canada. This apparent zeal for tzedakah is not without its merits. Donations to charity support vibrant and diverse Jewish and non-Jewish causes and in many cases help organizations to provide much needed services. In some cases, it is only thanks to the generosity of wealthy individuals that many iconic institutions have been built and maintained. As a result, most of us are familiar with our local mega-donors whose names adorn synagogue, hospital, school and university buildings.
While it is a well known Jewish axiom that tzedakah is an important mitzvah, one question ought to loom heavily over the heads of the wealthy among us who are so blessed as to be able to afford a six figure donation: At what point does your tzedakah turn into vanity?
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