The Anonymous Gift

June 24, 2009

2 min read


Emor (Leviticus 21-24 )

In this week's Torah portion, God instructs the owners of fields that:

"When you reap the harvest from your land, you shall not remove ... the corners of your field... For the poor ... shall you leave them ..." (Lev. 23:23)


God tells the Jewish people that they need to a leave a corner of their fields unharvested to allow the poor to come and take from it. God doesn't tell them to give some of their crops to the poor, but rather they should leave them some of their crops. The difference, although seemingly insignificant, is actually quite powerful.

When someone in need has to take from someone else, this not only takes courage but can also be quite embarrassing. God created all of us with an immense feeling of pleasure when we're able to be self-sufficient.

There are times when we all need help from someone else of one kind or another. But the want and thirst not to be completely dependent upon someone else for our basic needs are innate within all of us.

In an effort to allow the receiver of the crops not to feel ashamed, God tells the owner of the field to leave the crops. This way, perhaps in the middle of the night, the one who's in need can simply take without any embarrassment. To be able to pick up the crops with no one seeing him is an effort to lessen the receiver's emotional pain of knowing that at this moment he is dependent upon someone else for life's necessities.

What if you don't have a field in which to leave your crops? Today most people aren't farmers and the Torah is also an instruction guide for living in modern times. So, what lesson does this come to teach us?

Perhaps it's sometimes to give to others without ever letting them or anyone ever know that it was you who gave. To give anonymously to someone powerfully demonstrates that your motives are totally altruistic and you seek nothing in return expect for knowing that you helped someone in need.

The more you can give without the receiver ever knowing who you are, the more you'll be giving for the right reasons. It will be all about them and not about you. It won't be for the sake of an award, gratitude, or to see you name in lights. Rather, you'll be giving because you know that God simply "decided" that you should, as opposed to the one who's now in need. You're merely God's "go-between" to leave for others some of what God so graciously gave to you.

Giving in this way not only ensures that the recipient won't be embarrassed, but it also gets you completely in touch with the true and only source of all your possessions. And when you do this, you prepare yourself to receive God's blessing always to be an agent to give.

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