Dear Readers,

There was a cute story circulating on social media recently, earlier popularized in Chicken Soup for the Soul.1

It was about a man in an airport. At a kiosk, he bought a newspaper and a bag of chocolate-chip cookies to munch on while awaiting his flight. He sits down, and another traveler sits down near him. He takes a chocolate-chip cookie from the bag on the chair in between him and his fellow traveler, and then watches in shock … as the stranger takes one, too!

How dare this stranger take a cookie from his bag without even asking?! He says nothing, but gives the man a disdainful look. He eats another cookie and watches incredulously as the stranger again helps himself to another cookie, and then, another.

There’s now one remaining cookie left in the bag. He watches as the other guy breaks the last cookie, takes half and smilingly gestures to him to have the rest. Now, he is really inflamed. The chutzpah of this guy to help himself to my last cookie!

Before long, he boards his plane. Comfortably settled, he reaches into his carry-on case and his hand touches … his own, unopened bag of chocolate-chip cookies.

It now dawns on him that the cookies he had been eating weren’t his, but the other traveler’s, bought at the same airport kiosk. The one who had acted so brazenly was he—not his fellow traveler! And yet, the stranger was so magnanimous about sharing even his last treat.

The story teaches us about not judging others, and how sometimes the very acts that we look down at are things we may inadvertently be doing ourselves.

But there’s a deeper lesson to this story as well.

The word tzedakah is commonly translated as “charity.” Really, it means “uprightness” or “justice.” We may think that we are being charitable with our money when we gift it to the poor, but G‑d is telling us that He has given us our material possessions specifically so that we can share it with others. We are merely doing justice. G‑d gives us directly and gives to the poor by enabling us to give to them.

How often do we think that we are the kind ones sharing our chocolate-chip cookies? In truth, we are simply doing justice by sharing with others what G‑d entrusted to us.

As we approach the holiday of Passover, now is the time to think about giving to those in need. Does a member of your community require help with Passover expenses? Does a neighbor need help in paying his grocery bill? Is there someone who could use an invitation to attend a Seder or a holiday meal?

If we have, we are fortunate that G‑d has given us the opportunity to give to others.

It may look like the cookies are ours. But in reality, they are only ours to share.

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW