A charity collector once visited a wealthy man in the hopes of receiving a donation. The wealthy fellow politely explained how he would love to give but can’t, because he already gave his share of charity for the year. As evidence, he pointed to a pile of receipts on his desk.

The collector looked around the room, noticing his beautiful surroundings in the wealthy man’s home. Respectfully, he asked his host whether he could share a Torah insight. The wealthy man agreed.

“During the time of our Holy Temple in Jerusalem,” began the collector, “a Jewish livestock owner was obligated to tithe his flock. How was this done? He would pen the cattle in an enclosure and open up the door. As each animal exited the enclosure he would count: one, two, three, etc. When he counted the tenth, he would mark the animal with red dye. That animal would then be set aside to be brought to Jerusalem.

“A question,” continued the collector, “is asked regarding this prescribed process. Why make the rancher endure this whole process of penning the animals and then driving them out the exit? Why not just take ten percent off the top, add a few extra to ensure that no less than the required ten percent was tithed, and avoid this seemingly time-consuming and senseless exercise?

“The answer,” concluded the collector, “is that a very profound message is being conveyed to the rancher by virtue of this process. As each animal goes out the door, it is as if the Almighty is telling the person, ‘One is for you, two is for you, three is for you . . .’ After giving the owner nine, the Almighty then asks for only one. After getting to keep nine, the rancher is content, and realizes how all of his wealth comes from G‑d—and that though he is giving, he is getting much more.”

The point hit home. The wealthy man recognized his many blessings and happily gave a generous donation.