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

Giving It Away

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.

Published: August 2, 2008

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Visitor Comments: 4

(4) Anonymous, August 20, 2014 11:59 AM

Great!

This is great! Thank you so much for posting it!

(3) Sara, August 17, 2012 12:46 AM

Torah also states give as you are able to give. 10-20% can't apply to everyone. During the times of the Torah it was a different world than it is today, you just can't compare. Today 35% or more of our income goes to the government plus all the other taxes we pay for goods which leave very little for the average person. On a fixed income 10-20% is a big deal when you have very little for your self for meds or food. There wouldn't be so many poor people in the world if all the religous leaders gave a portion back instead of investiong in things that is not related to the Church/Synagogue. Another problem when people get rich they give to charity and at the same time over look their own family members who are in need. They find excuses for not helping family members at the same time give money away to complete strangers. I am for helping my fellow man but I also believe we should all help one another like they did during the time of Moses.

(2) Anonymous, August 4, 2010 5:10 AM

Great Article! :)

(1) Anonymous, August 10, 2008 2:14 PM

wow!!!!!!

thank you sooo much this really helped me understanf my torah portion better and it really helped when i was writing my d'var torah. you do a wonderful job of explaining it!!! thank you again

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