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Vayetzei (Genesis 28:10-32:3 )

by Rabbi Eli Scheller

And whatever You will give me, I shall repeatedly tithe it to you. (Gen. 28:22)

The Shulchan Aruch (1) states that one is required to take a tenth of what he earns and give it to charity. We see from Yaakov that giving a tithe to charity is not limited to money - it actually includes anything that God gives you. Yaakov says to God, "Whatever you shall give me, I shall repeatedly tithe it to you." You are required to share with others any talents or knowledge that God has granted you. (2) Just like God gave you money to be able to help others, He gives positive attributes and qualities so that you can help others.

Indeed, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein stated that a Jew should tithe his time, contributing a portion of his time to the service of worthy causes. A poor woman once visited the home of Rabbi Feinstein, and requested a meeting with him. "Why do you need to speak with the Rabbi?" asked one of the members of Rabbi Feinstein's family.

"I received a letter from my sister who lives in Russia," the woman said. "I would like the Rabbi to translate it for me."

"For this you have to come to the Rabbi?" asked the relative. "Rabbi Feinstein cannot be bothered with such things!"

"Why not?" asked the woman. "He has been translating these letters for me for the last 20 years."

Reb Moshe, who was an extremely busy man, gave of his time in order to help this poor woman!

Using God given talents to lord over others is arrogant and wrong. Someone that is musically talented or has a high IQ has to recognize that this was given to him for the sake of benefitting others.

NOTES

1. Y'D 249:1.

2. R' Moshe Shternbuch (Taam V'Daas).

 

 




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