Is tithing a requirement for Gentiles?

Give charity for the poor and needyQuestion: I am a minister seeking to further understand the ordinance of tithing. As it is preached in my circles, it is the practice – actually a command – to pay 10% of income to our place of worship. My challenge is that I did not understand this to be a command for a Non-Jew (a Gentile – which I am). The primary reference used when requiring this tithe is Malachi 3:8-10. Can you confirm if this is a requirement for Gentiles? I also understood the tithe in the Torah to be agriculture or animals – never money. Can you correct me if I’m wrong?

Answer:

(a) You are correct that there is no Scriptural Commandment that Gentiles are required to practice tithing.

(b) The Scriptural Commandments for tithing are addressed only to Jews. The Commandment for a Jew to tithe his kosher livestock (Lev. 27:32) pertains only when there is a Holy Temple in Jerusalem where the tithed animals can be sacrificed to G-d. The Commandments for the first tithe (Num. 18:24), the second tithe (Deut. 14:22), the Levites’ tithe (Num. 18:26), the tithe for the poor (Deut. 14:28) pertain to a Jew’s agricultural products that grow within the boundaries of the Holy Land of Israel. Although Jews are always required to separate those agricultural tithes, the tithed produce is not permitted to be eaten unless there is a Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

(c) Giving charity as a Scriptural Commandment applies only to Jews (Deut. 15:11). In the absence of the Holy Temple, it became a custom among Jews that the total charity they give annually should total at least 10% of their annual income.

(d) All of the Scriptural Commandments that G-d intends to be eternally binding are those that He commanded through Moses our teacher and recorded in the Pentateuch (the Five Books of Moses), which G-d dictated to Moses. There are 613 Scriptural Commandments for Jews, and 7 Scriptural Commandments for Gentiles. The 613 Commandments for Jews cover a great amount of details, while the 7 Commandments for Gentiles (also called the 7 Laws of Noah) are 7 general categories of Scriptural obligations, each of which comprises many sub-details.

(e) G-d additionally expects Gentiles to observe the general requirements of any of the 613 Jewish Commandments in the Pentateuch that a person is duty-bound to follow according to the dictates of human logic and Torah-based morality, according to the correct way that a civilized, decent, moral and sensitive person should logically act – for example, honoring one’s parents, returning lost objects, giving charity to support the needy (or to support endeavors that are consistent with the moral teachings of G-d’s Prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures), not to hate others, not to take revenge, not to bear a grudge, etc.

Because a Gentile is required to accept those general logical and moral obligations, he may choose to (but he is not required to) practice them in the manner that is observed by the Jews. For example, since a Gentile has a general obligation to give charity, he is permitted (but not required) to give specifically 10% of his income, in the same manner that Jews practice their “tithing” of their income. Or the Gentile may choose to give his charity only partially in the manner that Jews practice – for example, he may decide to tithe one type of income, but not another type of income, or to give 9% of his income to charity.

Because all human beings are created “in the image of G-d” (which means the unique human intellect within the human soul that has the capacity to know and choose between Good and Evil), therefore a Gentile should observe those logical obligations and prohibitions out of human decency, but not on the level of actual Divine Commandments. This means that a Gentile is liable to receive a punishment from G-d if transgresses those logical and moral obligations, but the punishment is not as severe as if he transgressed one of his actual 7 Scriptural Commandments.(i.e, the 7 Noahide Commandments).

That applies on a personal level. However, if an entire society becomes seriously morally corrupt (for example, if an entire society decided and agreed to establish that none of them would give any charity for the poor and needy), they are all liable to be severely punished by G-d. even to the extent that G-d punished the metropolis of Sodom.

All of this, and much more, is explained in our book The Divine Code: The Guide to Observing G-d’s Will for Mankind, Revealed from Mount Sinai in the Torah of Moses, (2nd Edition), by Rabbi Moshe Weiner of Jerusalem. Click here to view our web page for this book:
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