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Giving It Away

Re'eh (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17 )

by Rabbi Shaul Rosenblatt

The true pleasure of money is the opportunity to use it to help others.

This week's portion alludes to the Jewish idea of giving minimally 10% of one's net income to charity (Deut. 14:22). Twenty percent is the more ideal figure, but 10% is satisfactory.

Commenting on a word repetition in the Torah, the Sages make the following amazing statement: A person should give 10% in order to become wealthy! They say that it is impossible to become poor from giving charity, and if you don't believe it, just try it and see!

This is the only place that the Sages say you are allowed to test God out to see if He does what He says. Try giving 10% of your income to charity, they say, and watch your money grow. Apparently the concept is that if you use your money in a way that God wants, then He will give you more with which to do so.

The general principle of charity is as follows. What is more meaningful to do with your money - to spend it on yourself, or to use it to help others? What will give you deeper and more lasting pleasure? Yes, we can joke and laugh about it, but bottom line, everyone knows that giving to others is what will live with us for eternity - not the big house we built or the comfortable car we drove (or better yet, had someone else drive for us).

In Jewish thinking, God gives us money so we'll use it to make His world a better place. Yes, we should enjoy it also, and that's why one shouldn't give away more than 20%. But the true pleasure of money is the opportunity to use it to help others.

Even the best investment you can find will pay you nothing, once you have moved on from this world, as we all do one fine day. Only that which you invest in charitable giving can truly last forever.


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