Dear Rabbi,

Many, many years ago my parents took my brother and me to see the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. He gave each of us a crisp dollar bill. Now that I am older, with a family of my own, I feel that there is spiritual value in the dollar.

What should I do with it?


The Rebbe, of righteous memory, stood for hours distributing dollars and blessings to thousands of people every Sunday, and on other occasions. The Rebbe’s intention was that the recipient should give the dollar to charity. In this way, explained the Rebbe, when two meet, it should benefit another.

Usually, instead of giving the actual dollar bill to charity, the recipient would keep it and give away another dollar in its place. I know it was a long time ago, but do you remember if you did that? If you do not remember, I would recommend giving a dollar to charity as soon as possible.

When Two People Meet

The Rebbe commonly requested that we go out of our way to share something we have with one who lacks it, even if it isn’t much.

Receiving a dollar from the Rebbe gives one the responsibility of helping another. Whether it’s physical charity with money or goods, or time and effort, going out of your way for another’s benefit is what this dollar represents.

The dollar should serve as a constant reminder that the Jewish people are all about helping others, both spiritually and materially.

For this reason, many keep the dollar in their wallets, or in a place where it can easily be seen.

A Crisp Dollar

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of the Chabad movement, asked one of his followers for a large sum of money. The once-prosperous merchant from Vitebsk had fallen on hard times and lost his fortune. Alas, he felt heartbroken because he did not have the money for the rebbe. Upon learning of her husband’s distress, his wife sold her pearls and jewelry for the required sum of money. She then polished the coins till they sparkled, and packed them up for her husband to bring to the rebbe.

Rabbi Schneur Zalman opened the package, and the coins shone with an extraordinary brilliance. “Tell me,” he asked, “where did you get these coins?” The businessman told Rabbi Schneur Zalman of his plight, and how his wife had raised the money.

The rebbe said of the coins, “Of all the gold, silver and copper which the Jews gave to build the Tabernacle (the desert Sanctuary), nothing shone but the brass laver and its stand,” referring to the items made from the copper cosmetic mirrors which the Jewish women had selflessly and joyously given to the sanctuary.1

The Rebbe once intimated that this is the reason he gives mint-condition currency.2 The crisp dollar bill should serve as a reminder that giving charity, or for that matter any good deed, is best done with a smile, and in the purest way, and then the mitzvah will shine.

Money from the Righteous

The Rebbe gave one dollar bill, a relatively small amount, to each individual. When distributing money from one of the funds that the sixth Chabad rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, had established,3 the Rebbe would repeat what the sages said about Job in the Talmud:

What does [the Bible] mean when it states (Job 1:10), “You have blessed the work of his hands”? Anyone who received the amount of a perutah (penny) from Job was blessed.4

Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch, the third Chabad rebbe, explained that even a small amount of money, a perutah, from a righteous person such as Job, who was “sincere and upright, G‑d-fearing and shunning evil,”5 brings blessings.6

Likewise, may the blessing that comes from receiving a perutah from a righteous person, such as the Rebbe, be bestowed upon you.

See Sunday Dollars and The Rebbe’s Investment.

Below you can watch a video of “Sunday Dollars”: