Richboro Native Brings 21st Century Thinking to an Ancient Concept: The Mitzvah of Tzedakah

little boy filling tzedakah box
Image via Congregation Beth Israel.
Filling a tzedakah box.

The concept of a synagogue tzedakah box is nothing new. But in our current cashless society, complying with the Torah’s mitzvah of tzedakah — its precept of righteousness toward others — by filling it with donated funds can be tough. A Richboro native, however, eased the donation problem with a high-tech solution. Sasha Rogelberg reported on his innovation in the Jewish Exponent.

Knowing that the present age of Venmo and Apple Pay has all but erased a wallet full of donatable small bills, Ross Lefkowitz of Richboro has devised “Pushka.”

It’s a digital tzedakah box.

Users sign up online, attaching their credit cards to a host of Jewish organizations and outreaches they wish to support. Pushka then “rounds up” everyday purchases, sending the overage where the user has designated.

Lefkowitz’ inspiration came from his study of the Sephardic philosopher Rambam, who advocated giving smaller amounts of tzedakah daily, as opposed to large sums all at once.

“His encouragement was to give every single day,” Lefkowitz said. “Frequency is more important than size because you’re cultivating this sense of generosity.”

Pushka has the flexibility to allow donors to divide contributions among various recipients.

The technology is available only in the Philadelphia area for now. But Lefkowitz hopes to cultivate it into a national capability.

More on this virtual method of complying with the Torah’s mitzvah of tzedakah is at the Jewish Exponent.