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You Only Own What You Give

You Only Own What You Give


"And you shall take for me a contribution,"1 is the opening statement of this week's Parshah. The fact that it reads "You shall take for me a contribution" and not "You shall give for me a contribution" indicates that one who gives is also a recipient. In fact, that which one receives is even greater than that which one gives.

A Story

This point is well illustrated by the following story. In medieval Europe a rabbi was appointed senior adviser at the royal court. At one point, the rabbi was asked to disclose the records of his holdings. The rabbi, a wealthy man, produced a list and hand delivered it to the king.

However, upon investigation it was discovered that many of his properties were not listed. The ministers brought their discovery to the king, and accused the rabbi of deceipt.

The rabbi explained: "When the king asked me to disclose my holdings I included only those properties and funds that I have donated to charity. Those are the holdings I know will always be mine. All other properties do not truly belong to me, for today they are mine and tomorrow they may be taken from me..."

Indeed, he who gives is in truth a recipient. For only through giving can we acquire those properties for eternity.

Rabbi Lazer Gurkow is spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Tefilah in London, Ontario, and a frequent contributor to The Judaism Website— He has lectured extensively on a variety of Jewish topics, and his articles have appeared in many print and online publications. For more on Rabbi Gurkow and his writings, visit
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Abraham Hoschander Brooklyn, New York February 8, 2008

The Rabbi in this story This Rabbi was Rabbi Samson Wertheim - who was the Gadol Hador around the year 1700 as well as the wealthiest Jew in the world. In fact he was known during his time as the "KIng of the Jews". The Chavos Yair said about him that "since the days of Rav Ashi there was no who possessed Torah and Gedulah as did Rav Samson." Reply

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