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Giving with Joy

Giving with Joy

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Berel Weiss was a well-known philanthropist in Los Angeles. Daily, people in need would wait to see him after services in his Los Angeles synagogue. Each would receive help. And it wasn’t just the needy; Jewish organizations knew Mr. Weiss extended an open hand to all.

Berel told me that there was a time when he was struggling with this mitzvah, and he had asked the Lubavitcher Rebbe for advice. “Every time you write a check, you should feel joy in helping another,” the Rebbe told him.

Mr. Weiss extended an open hand to all

The Hebrew word for giving of your wealth to another is “tzedakah.” The word “charity” is an inaccurate translation. Its proper meaning is “justice” or “righteousness.” Judaism views giving not as an act of kindness, but as a responsibility.

Some are naturally generous, others are not. Over the years, I have uncovered a major difference in what prompts people to give. It’s a question of how we view our money. Some have the attitude, “I earned the money; I can spend it as I choose.” Others see money and success in a deeper, more spiritual fashion. “Yes, I worked hard, but the success is a blessing from above. I am a steward of the money I have been blessed with, and I have a responsibility to help others and the community.”

One can ask an interesting question: Why did G‑d create a world with those who have resources and those who are in need? It could have been much simpler if G‑d just evenly distributed the resources to all.

The answer is that G‑d is providing us with a remarkable opportunity. With our giving, we have the power and ability to transform the world into a better place. An investment in Jewish education will ensure a Jewish future for a child. Support of those who are hungry will help them survive. Our giving is a sacred act of caring and compassion for another. When we give, we act in a G‑dly fashion.

G‑d is providing us with a remarkable opportunity

With an open hand, we can build a strong, vibrant community. At the same time, we model for our children the Jewish ideal of caring for the community and others. And we should remember to have simchah shel mitzvah, the joy of the mitzvah, as Mr. Weiss did, every time we write a check.

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