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Can I Bribe G-d with Charity?

Can I Bribe G-d with Charity?

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Dear Rabbi,

I often give tzedakah, charity, in memory of loved ones and people who have inspired me, but lately my motivations have changed. I've been donating to worthy causes in the hope of achieving something I yearn for and dream about - I want my daughter to get married. Is this still charity, or am I bribing G‑d?

Answer:

Actually, giving charity for personal gain is perfectly fine. According to the Talmud, “One who gives charity and says, ‘on condition that my child is healed from sickness,’ or ‘on condition that I earn a reward in the afterlife’ – is completely righteous.”1 As you said, this seems strange. Is the donation not tainted when done for one’s own benefit? Surely one should give with more altruistic motives.

But no. When it comes to giving charity our intentions matter little. The main thing is that the needy person or worthy cause is helped.

A philanthropist once came to Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi to complain that he felt he was giving charity without sincerity. “Without sincerity? Nonsense!” replied the Rebbe. “There is plenty of sincerity. Perhaps you are not sincere in giving charity, but the poor are very sincere in receiving your charity. Even if you don't mean it, they do!”

Don't get too preoccupied with intentions. When it comes to helping others, actions count more. If you are doing something good, even for selfish reasons, it is still good. And if selfish motives are what it takes to keep you giving charity, so be it.2

Can G‑d be bribed? I don't think so. Whether you will receive the particular blessing you seek is up to Him. But one thing is for sure, G‑d does not remain indebted. Any good deed, whatever the motive, generates blessing and will be rewarded. Sometimes we see the results, sometimes we don't. But it is our good deeds, not good intentions, which make the world a better place.

Footnotes
1.

The Talmud Pesach 8a.

2.

According to the Tosofists, even when we feel we are giving charity with ulterior motives, our ultimate intention is to give charity just for the sake of the mitzvah (On ibid. Pesachim 8b s.v. “Sheyizkeh”).

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
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Anonymous Topeka, s February 10, 2016

Thank y'll for letting me read/study this again! Reply

Anonymous March 15, 2015

My reaction to this question is bargaining is one of the principles of acceptance. As long as you are aware of your hope or expectation and understand that you may or may not get what you want in the way you want it no gift is ever useless. Reply

MDavid February 5, 2015

I wouldn't do it... Circumcision of heart (intentions) matter most when it comes to charity. However, with charity specifically, you don't need to have a 'positive' heart when you give. You have to give with your right (trusting) hand even if you have to tie your left (skeptical) hand behind your back.

Giving money to bribe HaShem is something you do *NOT* want to do. Firstly, money is too dirty to offer directly to him. Secondly money is worldly. If you do something worldly in order to affect future outcomes, than gets classified under the 'W' world. I would say, HaShem would love it more if you didn't give the money to get something in exchange. But HaShem already knows the situation anyway and what you need. The angels could be working on it.

Also there are people that give too much because they feel it works giving more. Don't try to curry special favor with money. I've been guilty myself. Reply

David Levant Emerson,NJ October 10, 2013

Motivation If your motive is for your daughter to get married, then pray for this. If you want to continue giving tzedakah this is righteous. Giving tzedakah for any cause is always noble as long as it does not come in conflict with G-D'S laws. The causes you support will be documented,and if worthy of blessing,you just might get it. Reply

Dr. Elyas Fraenkel Isaacs, Ph.D. New York, NY August 19, 2012

Talmud And Wisdom Talmud and Siddur sources say wisdom is good, but that only wisdom will not be preserved. Wisdom with deeds will be preserved and live to grant its benefit as well as earning the mitzvot.
Reply

Nicola New York August 16, 2012

Selfish charity I have wondered whether there is such a thing as a selfless good deed? At the very least you receive the personal actualization and satisfaction of helping another.
The other day i watched a very interesting television special on Marc Drier who was responsible for $400 million ponzi scheme in 2009. In interviews with Drier he spoke explicitly about the charities he spearheaded and philanthropic efforts he made while in power, and how they were absolutely critical in maintaining the facade of a wealthy and stable firm and helping to build a positive personal reputation.
While the charities, fund raisers, and donations may have been real, the intentions were not only tainted but perpetuated the massive scheme that was being played, eventually resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs lost.

is this charity? Reply

bing malang, indonesia August 4, 2012

I thought of that years ago, and I believed that even G-d can be bought or bribed. The difference is that G-d can only be bought or bribed by us doing what G-d says, being good, faithful, etc. Just sharing... Reply

Anonymous CBE, France July 31, 2012

More jaded humor... From the other perspective of recipients, my father used to say, you will receive more from a stingy wealthy man than from generous people who have nothing to give.

Whether selfishness or selflessness, intentions and their emotions are unconsecuential. Reply

Barry Solomon Redondo Beach, ca via jccmb.com July 29, 2012

Tzedaka Dennis Prager would say to those who are not so quick to to mitzvahs and who are concerned about their " feelings"

Give charity or do a mitzvah first.
The " feeling" will come later Reply

Dr. Elyas F. Isaacs, Ph.D. New York, NY July 26, 2012

Charity & Wishes, Part II. Both the flagpole & Flag of Israel arrived & we are planning a small presentation soon which should be a great day for Israel & memories for the seniors.
My reason for doing all this was thinking how much just looking at the Flag of Israel on Shabbat would have meant to me while I lived at the nursing home with no Shabbat services.
Now due to circumstances I find myself needing a new residence. One place I pray for is called "the Hebrew Home". It is run as a Jewish focused home & has senior apartments & other residential sites. But -- I wonder, will the Lord think I donated the flagpole & Flag of Israel with hopes of a bribe for a new & better place to live.
I confess I did not think of any personal gain when acquiring the Flag & pole, So, I hope & pray the Lord sees my sincerity of heart & unrelated wish to give to the seniors some Shabbat Day uplift! I just want to see the Flag flying high & smiles on the older folks' faces.
Mazel tov & l'chaim! GO Jewish Home! GO ISRAEL! Reply

Dr. Elyas F. Isaacs New York, NY July 26, 2012

Charity & Wishes, Part I. This is a good question which ironically places a bit of jaded humor on my face, a wry smile. On rainy days my walk from the bus to my Synagogue for Shacharit passes by the Jewish Home, a nursing home, in New York City. Not long ago while going through rehab for a back injury, I lived in a nursing home. Mine was Orthodox owned but run as a secular facility with only three visits from a Conservative Rabbi each year.
As there was no regular weekly Shabbat service & I worship Orthodox, there was absolutely nothing holy or spiritual to do between Shabbat Kiddush|Musaf & Havdalah except look out my third floor window & watch the wind in the trees, the pidgeons on the sill, & the squirrel racing back & forth on the rear fence.
So, walking by the Jewish Home in the rain, I was inspired by the idea to purchase a small flagpole & Flag Of Israel to place next to the US Flag in front of the home. Reply

Feigele Boca Raton, FL July 26, 2012

G-d is not a merchant! I don’t think that G-d is in the practice of buying or selling. To him we were all created equally and he doesn’t judge who or how much a person can give. I am sure he knows who can and how much they can. The purpose of charity is to help someone who is less fortunate than you are, if it is in your means. I don’t believe the reason for giving will be affected in any way. It has to come from your heart and compassion for others. Reply

William Thompson Deer Park, TX July 26, 2012

Charity Yes, I was gratified to read this..At times I give tzedaka for reasons I feel sometimes selfish.. Reply

Eugina Giovanna Herrera New York, New York July 26, 2012

Basket I really believe is worse than the basket, nothing to do with bribing G-d. It depends on our economy to balance out our needs for our loved ones and for ourselves too. However, is a good cause to help those when is coming from your heart to help those in need or any other circumstances. A saying is worth more than a penny, in other words, our act of kindness and good deeds is worth much more than the material world filled with greed. Money is the source of all evil and our Act of good deeds with One G-d is more than Greed. Reply

Tania Hammer FAR ROCKAWAY, New York July 26, 2012

Tzeddaka Similarly, there is a concept that when you put a penny in the tzedakah box with the intention of finding something lost, you will find it. I say penny, because it doesn't matter how much you put in, the item always shows up. I don't ask why, I'm just grateful that this works. With the correct intention of course! So maybe this lady can have those intentions too...she's missing a son in law!!! Reply

Anonymous CBE, France July 25, 2012

Whether you receive the blessing is up to Him. Blessings such as longevity, the number of children and prosperity don't depend on merit, but on mazal. I.e. neither poor people merit their misery nor wealthy people merit their fortune. In general, such blessings don't depend on merit but they can be attained through inheritance or through a pious spouse among other ways, which are mazal too. Whether you merit such blessings that depend on mazal "for free" is up to the Owner, but God has also many blessings "for sale", so you can buy more blessings and protection from Him if you can afford to do so. And that's not bribing, but purchasing. And buying from God is a great long term investment. God can also be a buyer who buys your services and talents or He can become your partner. And He is not bribing either. That's the whole point of the mitzvot, being able to deal with him as "equal" parties in a contract.

Reply

Mr. Rob Lena July 23, 2012

Thanks This is one question I was always afraid to ask. Reply

Go-ds right hand man Ohio, Ohio July 23, 2012

Uh yes ...from France The word only isn't part of the sages contribution .... The teaching/lesson is charity saves from death ! Silver answers everything wrote king Solomon ! There are many prescriptions that add to a persons longevity, one can be relocating, as mshaneh makom, mshaneh mazal ! Reply

Anonymous Capesterre Belle Eau, France July 20, 2012

yes you can bribe G-d with charity The sages said, "only charity can save from death." Reply

Michal Evenari July 19, 2012

I give charity, because I know, 10 per cent of my income belongs to G-d. This way it is very easy for me. It just doesn't belong to me.
and it is not something great or extraordinary. I know I can give, when necessary
until 20%.
As I live on social security, it gives me a good feeling. In the eyes of Hashem 10 percent is 10 percent. Reply

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