Quality is probably more important than quantity
In the parsha we some time use a verse as a source for our dvar torah. In this week’s edition we’re going to use it only as a take off point onto which we will make a comparison. From there we will go on to our point.
See chapter 9 verse 19 where moshe rabeinu (our teacher) states that he was very terrified of possible grave punishment because of God’s anger. He therefore put huge , almost superhuman energy into pleaing for mercy to gain forgiveness. Interestingly enough, the Talmud states that if someone gives charity, tzedakah, quietly, anonymously it would be more powerful than even moshe rabeinu’s heavily charged prayer to pacify God.
The Hebrew term used for this is” matan b’seser” It is based on a phrase in Mishlei(proverbs) 21:14″.Matan Bsesr covers anger”.
Charity is a great mitzvah. The Jewish soul has ingrained in its genes a desire to do chesed in many different forms. One of them is Tzedaka. We have inherited this wonderful trait from our great father , Avrohom, who was a master, the personification of gmilas chasodim. Imagine, praying relentlessly for the salvation of the wicked Sodom and Amorah .That’s our father. Even though they were so wicked that they passed laws forbidding kindness and hospitality!!, he still prayed for them.
But this giant of a mitzvah requires understanding and truth. I was told by a sophisticated expert in the field of statistics on charity sums of the jewish people in the US. He told me a startling thing. Namely , that over 60% of the jewish money in the US is donated to non-jewish institutions and charities!! That is extremely upsetting!!. There are so many Jewish causes that are really struggling for survival, institutions that can’t make ends meet, whether it be educational, medical, communal, etc. etc. andyet so many of our jewish brothers and sisters have been misinformed or are unaware of their own“ family’s“ needs.!! So the first rule is to 1- give to the right Jewish charities.
The second rule is give clarify to yourself, why you are giving hardearned money. Is it really for sincere reasons or do you just want to make an impression and receive honor and recognition?. The difference between the two is simple. A man wants to donate money for education. He can donate money for a building, a classroom, or he can donate to improve a curriculum or pay the teachers. Which is preferred? And which is more important? Answer: Well , let‘s look at the very source of all Jewish , legal and ethical education, the TenCommandments.
Should one prefer to give money to build a beautiful ark to house the tablets or the sefer torah or should one give money to pay for teaching the content of the ten commandments or the sefer torah? It‘s obvious. If one is looking for fame and to be remembered, he would give for the ark or the building and have his name engraved in the wall of the building or ark. But if one is interested in accomplishing , in actually educating then he would give for theteaching, choosing to by– pass the fame and honor. The second rule is 2- give your money modestly ,sincerely and not for ulterior motives
There’s a famous story of Yussele the miser. Whenever a needy person asked for help he was refused. People had very negative feelings toward “yussele“. So wealthy and always an emphatic “NO!” to all requests for help. That city also had another man that was very generous. He offered support for all that came to him privately or for community needs. One day the miser died. It didn’t bother the people much at all. But for some reason the wealthy , generous philanthropist also stopped his charity handouts. People asked,” did you suffer financial losses, is all OK?
He answered, ” All these years, I was never wealthy to begin with. All my charity money came from Yussele who you thought was a miser. He wanted his mitzvah to be pure and sincere without any acknowledgement . he wanted only “matan b’seser ” anonymous giving. Shabbat shalom from Jerusalem.
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