Growing Each Day: Av 14
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Av 14

His deeds are glory and beauty, and His righteousness remains forever (Psalms 111:3).

The Hebrew phrase, His righteousness remains forever, can also be read as "His tzedakah remains forever."

The Talmud relates that Rabbi Akiva was once collecting funds for a worthy cause. As he approached the home of a regular contributor, he heard him tell his son, "Go to the market and buy leftover vegetables because they are cheaper." Rabbi Akiva then turned away and returned only after most of the needed money had been collected.

"Why did you not come to me first?" the man asked.

Rabbi Akiva told him of the conversation he had overheard, and that he did not wish to impose upon him for a larger donation when he was in financial straits.

"You heard only the communication with my son, but you were not privy to my communication with God," the man said. "When I economize, I do so on my household expenses. The tzedakah remains unchanged."

When budget cuts must be made, everyone has their particular priorities. Some people may cut their tzedakah while retaining the scheduled trade-in for a new-model car. Some people will bargain hard for a reduction in their children's tuition, while they accept other prices without bickering.

The Psalmist tells us that the measure of a person's action is that his or her tzedakah remains forever; i.e. tzedakah is the last budget item to be cut.

Today I shall...

rethink my priorities. The values I place on things may be reflected by which items I am willing to do without.

With stories and insights, Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...

Published: May 21, 2009

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