17 Iyar 5779 / Wednesday, May 22, 2019 | Torah Reading: Bechukotai
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Who Gets More?    

Who Gets More?

So who really gets more? The nice lady who got a donation to help her with her struggles or the girl who had the opportunity to help? Let's rethink the notion of giving…


When we think of giving charity, we think of doing a good deed – something above and beyond. What if I told it wasn’t? What if I told you that everything you heard about charity was backwards?


Oh, I know it feels good to give. When we do good, we feel good. But there’s a deeper truth to all this giving, We’ve got to ask who’s giving to who?  The truth is that more than we give to the poor man, the poor man gives to us. Think back to the last great kindness you did. It may be days or months or years later and yet it still fills you with pride and fulfillment.


I remember when I was 15. My sister told me that unbeknownst to me, my friend’s family had been victims of domestic violence for years. After one beating too many, her mother was finally getting out. With her large family, managing on her own was going to be very difficult. It was going to take a lot of money and support to get her on her feet.


At that time, I was in seminary in England, living in a dorm. I remember how I walked around from room to room collecting money. With each room that I went to I felt myself growing stronger, more determined. I asked and people gave, my little Styrofoam cup was filling up! At the end I had about $250, which felt like a lot of money. I sent it to my sister for her to pass along.


Fast forward 25 years. My friend’s mom lives near me. She’s a strong, spunky warm woman and she has raised a beautiful family on her own. I love her. No seriously, I do. I have spoken to her probably only six times over the past twenty years and yet I feel so connected.


You see, she and I are connected. By giving, my world expanded and now it includes her. By having the chance to give, my soul grew tentacles and attached itself to hers. The $250 may have been used up in one grocery trip but the energy it created is infinite.


On the psychological level, it built my self-esteem. On a soul level, it connected me to G-d, the ultimate Giver. On a societal level, it connected humanity. And on a cosmic level, the reward for this deed will be with me for eternity. I am forever changed and nothing, not even subsequent unkindness, G-d forbid, can take it away. A mitzvah is eternal.


So who really got more? The nice lady who got a donation to help her with her struggles or the girl who had the opportunity to help?


If we really understood how true this is, we would look at people differently. We’d be humbled before the one who needs to ask, for G-d has put them in our path to give us an opportunity to give. He’s giving us a chance to matter.

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