Thursday, August 15, 2013

9 Elul: Charity

Hillel says, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? 
If not now, when?" Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14

"Tzedakah and acts of kindness are the equivalent of all the mitzvot of the Torah" – Jerusalem Talmud

For a long time, I had a hard time giving Tzedakah (charity).  It wasn't that I didn't want to be generous or not part with my hard earned cash.  I felt more untrusting.  Everyone had their hand out and I felt suspicious.  (I know the reasons why, but it is too personal to put in a public blog).  I remember one fundraiser, an indoor cycling event, there was a hefty registration fee.  It just seemed that this fundraiser was raising money for the event to run rather than for the particular organization that needed the help.  

When I started on this spiritual journey and I learned more about Tzedakah, I forced myself to write checks to organizations.  I still felt the twinge of suspicion, but I let it go.  

Rabbi Zechara Wallerstein said in one of his lectures that giving Tzedakah is a lifetime investment and the money is never lost.  Unlike losing money in the stock market, where the money is gone, Tzedakah is forever.  This lesson spoke to me and guides my thoughts on giving.  

Often it's a matter of giving five or ten dollars, in ten years, will five or ten dollars matter to me?  Likely not, so why not give it to someone who needs it now.  

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