LESSONS OF JUDAISM

 

 

Charity Given With Joy

   An eminent specialist who devoted much of his time to charity work in clinics was surprised to have an old gentleman ushered into his Park Avenue consultation room one day.  “Remember me, Doctor?” asked the man.  “You treated me over at the clinic.  Well, I’ve been left a little money and I guess I can afford my own doctor now.”  “But what made you come to me?” the physician wanted to know.  “I wasn’t the only doctor who treated you at the clinic.”  “I know,” the old man said quietly, “but you were the only one who helped me with my coat.”

 

   Charity is one of the hardest mitzvoth to perform with joy.  Perhaps because it means the loss of something with value.  Perhaps it is fear that the recipient is not truly needy.  Yet charity given without joy, even a large amount, is actually a violation of the law.1

 

   How can one develop an attitude of giving with joy?  Can one ever feel thankful that an opportunity to give charity has been provided?  The mitzvah to give charity is not because G-d needs the money.   Charity benefits not only the recipient but also the giver.

 

   Rabbi Zalman of Liadi taught2 that the recitation of the Shema is a commitment to put G-d’s will before one’s own.  It is a daily affirmation of willingness to surrender one’s life to God.  This constant awareness of commitment and surrender is the key to following G-d’s law in the face of temptation to the opposite. 

 

   In the same way, preparation is the key to success with charity.  It is not natural to want to give charity.  With the proper preparation one can be ready with the right attitude when the opportunity presents itself.  It is even possible to desire chances to give charity.

 

   I know a man who takes a stack of dollar bills with him whenever he goes into the city.  His is prepared to give to beggars, street musicians, any who are in need.  By preparing, he looks forward to giving charity.

 

   The money one receives is given by G-d, like a trust, to be used when called upon.3  Even then G-d does not ask for it all but, just a portion.  He asks for no more than 20%.  Make a decision to return what was lent to you.

 

   Decide how much you are willing to give and set it aside. Take it out first, off the top, not from what is left over.  Designate it for charity so it is given willingly. 

 

   Give some of your charity daily so that it is a normal act.  Carry money with you money that is set aside for charity to be prepared to give when the opportunity presents itself.  Whether a quarter, $1 or $20 or $100, start with what you can give willingly.

 

   The ideal is to trust that G-d will bring the right recipients into one’s life.  Barring the ideal, decide under what circumstances your willing to give.  It could be anyone who approaches in the shul, or the shul pushke, or anyone on the street, or select organizations, etc.   Make the decision ahead of time so when the opportunity presents itself you’ll be able to give readily and joyfully.

1. Ketzer Shulchan Aruch 34:7

2. Tanya, Likutei Amarim, Ch. 25

3  Ketzer Shulchan Aruch 34:1

 

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Relationship: To Community

Charity Given With Joy

Love Every Jew

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Unity From Acceptance

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Trust and Faith

Choices

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