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Iyar 7

Do not feel bad in your heart when you give to him [the poor] (Deuteronomy 15:10).

When people come to collect charity, we may sometimes feel annoyed with them, especially if they come frequently. The Torah here is cautioning us not to bear any resentment when we give to them.

A recovered alcoholic, sober for many years, gave much of his time to help newcomers to sobriety. He therefore made himself available to them twenty-four hours a day, so that whenever they called, he could help them resist the urge to drink. Someone once asked him, "Doesn't it irritate you to be repeatedly awakened during the night?" "Of course not!" he answered. "I just have to remember that I'm not the one who is doing the calling."

This man knew that many years earlier, he himself had needed to call for help. Now that he was in a position to give help instead of receiving it, his deep gratitude precluded any irritation at being bothered at strange hours.

If we ever feel put upon by people who ask for charity, one need only realize that since we are in a position to give instead of needing to receive, we should be so overwhelmed with gratitude that there should be no room for annoyance. As we give charity, we might also give our blessings and good wishes to the recipients, that God should help them soon be in a position to give to others.

Today I shall...

give tzedakah with an open hand and willing heart, and be grateful that I am in a position to give instead of needing to receive.

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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