Selfless Giving

June 24, 2009

2 min read


Behar-Bechukotai (Leviticus 25-27 )

In this week's Torah portion, God tells the Jewish people that if another Jew should become impoverished, not only should you help him by lending him money, but when you do make sure you:

"Do not give him your money for interest." (Lev. 25:37)


There are two powerful messages in God's decree to not lend money to a fellow Jew with interest. The first thing is to remember that all blessings - including how much money a person has - come directly from God. Therefore, when you lend someone money, you're simply giving him some of the money that God gave to you. And since it was technically "His" money to begin with, He has the right to tell you to not charge interest when you lend it out.

The second lesson is actually designed to make sure that you never forget the first lesson. We unfortunately live in a very selfish world and people often do things (or don't do them) for selfish reasons. Many people will unconsciously undergo a "cost/benefit" analysis to see what kind of payoff they can expect to receive for their actions.

So God wants to insure that when you lend money to someone, it will be completely about the person you're helping - and nothing at all to do about you. And the fact that any money you lend without interest would certainly earn you a better financial return if you put in into the bank helps to reinforce this point. Lending money to a fellow Jew interest-free makes it all about their needs and not about your own gain.

The powerful message that God wants us always to remember is to know that the ultimate form of giving is when it's done completely and totally selflessly.

No matter what you give to someone who's in need - whether it's money, your time, or advice - make it all about the other person. And ironically, when you give for the right reasons you'll experience something totally remarkable. You'll feel an enormous amount of pleasure. And that's the great paradox. The more selfless of a giver you are, the greater the return you'll actually receive.

Next Steps