Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Gain interest on the gift that keeps on giving!

The parsha continues to discuss the commandment to give charity with an open hand. The Talmud tells us to give charity again and again without being afraid of financial loss. This is hard to wrap your finger around, I am sure, but this is what Hashem commands from us.

If you were to give someone a loan, with a lender who is guaranteed to pay you back, you would feel secure about lending out the loan, right? When we give charity, it is as if our loan is being guaranteed by Hashem Himself (as it states in Mishlai: “One who gives graciously to the poor extends as it were a loan to Hashem, Who will pay back all that is due” (19:17)). In other words, the benefactor will be repaid, but in the world to come, he will receive his full reward.

Hashem promises that He will repay us when we give tzedaka, so why don’t we extend our arms more often?

Mishlai continues to say, “He who gives to the poor will not lack, whereas he who conceals his eyes will have many curses” (28:27). When we give, we are paid back, when we refrain from extending ourselves, the money we should have given will eventually be lost. However, our sages continue saying that you should not give charity to the point where you yourself need charity, rather you should give according to your financial capability.

Moreover, tzadaka can save a person’s life and abolish any Heavenly decrees that were over his head(repentance and prayer are the other two facets where a person can change his fate).

Halachot-laws- of giving tzadaka:
1.     A person should give based on his income: the more you have, the more you should give. If you have an average income, ten percent is recommended, if you have much more, giving up to one-fifth is recommended. (If a rich and poor person give the same amount, the poor person’s charity will be seen as more favorable to Hashem, whereas the rich man may be punished for giving an insufficient amount).
2.     A person is obligated to give charity to those closest to him. (For example, if you have a poor relative, you give precedence to giving to your family first, then neighbors, then communities, etc.).
3.     Tzadaka is either food or money.
4.     If a poor man asks for charity to buy him clothing, we may investigate the matter further; however, if he asks for food, we must immediately provide for him.
5.     We must give tzadaka happily and give over words of encouragement. A person who gives charity in anger is not merited.
6.     Optimally, giving tzadaka should be done anonymously, where the donor does not know the recipient and the recipient does not know the donor, preventing the recipient from embarrassment. (How amazing is God for even thinking about the psychology of the poor man, His mercy is so great to care about fulfilling their needs so that their struggle to survive is minimized).

7.     The highest level of tzadaka is preventing a Jew from needing tzdaka. By helping a Jew get a job where he can support himself continuously, or lend him money to start a business, etc., you are giving the highest level of tzadaka.  How incredible this would be, helping a person support himself, rather than having him continuously be embarrassed by the fact that he cannot sustain himself and needs financial assistance from others?!

We have to understand that through giving tzadaka, a person is given the greatest opportunity to give, getting a taste of the Creator Himself (Whose essence is complete giving). Without learning to give, what would become of our society?

Moreover, people were created with different financial circumstances for one reason:
 To give those with more the opportunity to give! What’s even more beautiful is that every person is obligated to give, even the poor man has to give, seeing that there is always someone who is more needy than him. The cycle of giving is continuous.
This commandment teaches us that we should all learn to give more! By giving we are actually getting the power to receive. By giving, we are becoming better people, we are developing our character, we are showing that we have bitachon-trust in Hashem- that He will continue to provide for us if we listen to His commandment. Tzadaka truly is the gift that keeps on giving!

No comments:

Post a Comment