The Power of Half

Got something you don’t really need?

Comments (18)

(18) SusanE, February 25, 2010 12:04 AM

Work for a Charity for One Year

There are many charitable groups that need what you can give. If you do as Rabbi Salomon suggests and give from your excess .................PLEASE give from your best excess. Clean in-style clothing, clean towels and bedding, clean useful household furniture. If you work at or for a charity for a year you will soon learn how that organization is performing. You will also learn if the needs of the people that it serves are being met. Two well known organizations that I was involved in were absolutely mismanaged and tons of money was wasted or not accounted for. Be aware of a charity that only wants money. I also worked for the Salvation Army and saw the impact they have on a small community. I also saw the immense amount of dirty unuseable clothing and junk that people donated. Please continue to give! And when you give from your excess, give from your best excess. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Please don't overlook the tiny networks of dedicated HARD-WORKING people that alleviate need in communities and neighborhoods. They are quiet and discreet and make a huge contribution to the welfare of the community. I was amazed at what small dedicated groups of men and women can do. Donate to them from your excess. Ask them what they are most in need of and give from your Best excess.

(17) Anita, February 20, 2010 7:08 AM

Wish I HAD something to give away...

Right now, I'm living in an unheated garage in Florida, during the coldest part of the year. Yes I'm staying with friends, but they have a "full house" so I'm grateful that I even have a garage. I have already given away so much that the little bit I have is only my computer, some books and my clothes. Oh, and my constant companion, my dog. I doubt very much I'd give HER away. I've learned that when you can't give money, give time. It's a commodity that everyone has and a lot of people waste. a.

(16) G.M. Grena, February 19, 2010 5:45 AM

Response to (7) Sarah Hirsch

Your intentions seem fine, Sarah, but you're not being rational. If most bums are mentally ill instead of lazy, why would you give money to them? Are they smart enough to spend your handout wisely, but not smart enough to work & pay taxes? Baloney! It's not heartless to point beggars in the direction where trained social workers can help them, but it is heartless to feed their addiction.

(15) Herbert Lazarus, February 19, 2010 3:23 AM

"Non-Profit Charities."

I am a middle class American with an adequate but not particularly large income. For years I have been donating modest amounts to a large number of charities. I received a solicitation from Flame listing the salaries of directors of several of these organizations. I was amazed. They are each being paid several hundred thousand dollars per year while working for a charity. My income is far less than $100,000 per year. As a matter of fact, Flame's director claims to be working pro-bono; however his advertising agency collects fees from donations to Flame. I wrote to him asking what the annual amount of these fees are. As with other organizations to whom I have since written, I got no reply. I admire what you said rabbi about the Power of Half , but how can one give in the face of such hipocrisy? If you can answer me rabbi, I would appreciate it.

(14) Anonymous, February 17, 2010 6:59 PM

My Almost Paid up Mortgage

Dear Rabbi, I really feel great! Next year my mortgage will be paid in full! Hard to believe in these days of financial crisis no? (OK it was alot of work and took 30 years but worth it!) I heard that an old friend's daughter was having financial difficulty. There was nothing I liked better than putting something in an envelope and say "This is to help your daughter."

(13) Anonymous, February 16, 2010 9:30 PM

I have a few extra pounds I've been meaning to give up...

(12) Dvirah, February 16, 2010 7:49 PM

Too Much

Yes, I do have an excess of something - it's called debt! Anyone want half? More seriously, my family routinely holds "inventory" days when excess clothing, etc, is weeded out and donated.

(11) Phil, February 16, 2010 6:43 PM


Lisa (comment #3) beat me to it: Clothes! I really need to bag up a bunch of clothes that have been sitting around for years.

(10) Anonymous, February 16, 2010 6:24 PM

Benefits in giving to the poor

I had to back off in helping the poor for a while. I was so known for it in my town, even though I didn't make it public, guess word got around. Example, I went to a new beauty shop to get my hair cut, and she kept going on how poor she was. Something wasn't right with the whole thing. She lived in the best section of the town, in a very nice house. Her husband had a very good job. It was like she was scamming me, or trying. Hard to explain this, but this was happening all the time to me. And I believe you do your giving in secret, and it wasn't a secret anymore. After about 7 years of focusing on something different, my house is full of stuff, I gained weight, not as spiritual as I was before, I don't clean house like I use to, and I got wrapped up in currrent events ect ect. It was time to get back involved. But I am doing it differently this time. I went out of town, got involved with an organization, that I can remain in secret for the most part, their focus is on the dignity of the poor and needy, which means they offer services and goods very low in price, so the poor can afford it, but still keep their dignity, they are not getting free handouts. I just started this, and I'm already experiencing the benefits, I'm losing weight, keeping up on my housework, spending more time in the bible, my house is getting decluttered, spending more time in silent prayer, and being more connected to Hashem. My enemies are at peace with me,(I don't forget they are my enemies tho.) and the Lord lends help to me, when I need it. So when God advises us to give to the poor, he does have our best interest in mind.

(9) Anonymous, February 16, 2010 3:34 PM

Taking care of the foreigner

This is not about Obama economics. This about humanity - if we took care of the foreigner in our midst - we would reap Deuteronomy's blessings not the curse. We also would change governments without Marxism, et al., by doing what Torah proclaims. The Creator understood world governments better than we - we would be the head and not the tail if we adhered to HIS words in taking care of those who have less than we do then we would not contend with the philosphy of world politicos. Read Torah - live, give and receive more and give more. Change nations the Creator's way.

(8) Guy, February 16, 2010 3:31 PM

Not getting the point folks

I also am very blessed, as I hope you ALL are, in one fashion or another. I agree with the thought of giving half of the EXCESS, whatever that may be. We had over 30 china patterns and last year we could not believe what we have collected. We never intended to do so many, so, we donated them to a consignment store and let them seel them and all the proceeds were donated to several charities. Why do you pick on the poor man in the story? Do YOU know of his circumstances? I was once a raging drunk, near to losing everything, including my medical license, but I turned around, but you know what, it takes TIME and you have NO idea what that man is doing when he is not on the corner.... Is it not G-d that we look to for guidance, help, support, love-but I just could NOT find anywhere in the Torah where is said for us to cast a judgment towards another person, amybe my Torah is different from ya'lls.....hmmmmm..... I commend this family for doing what they did, and if it comes back 10 fold by selling books, or making more money, who's to say THAT money is not donated as well? Did we GET the ending, or part 2 of the story? Relax and take care of your own giving, do not be jealous or others.....

(7) Sarah Hirsch, February 15, 2010 1:15 PM

Heartless responses

What heartless responses some of these are! Most homeless people are not "bums" who don't want to work. Many are mentally ill. Many were just on the verge of homelessness when they lost their jobs or suffered a health setback, and if they had no insurance, that put them on the street. And please don't say, "Well, they needed a job with insurance then." Many companies just don't offer it anymore. My best friend and beloved companion, many years ago, ended up on the street due to a mental breakdown. Of course we aren't required to feel ashamed of having money. But anyone who thinks that G-d gave them that money to keep for themselves, that they are somehow more blessed by G-d because of it...well, you are waiting for a long, hard fall. My friend, the one I mentioned who had a breakdown and ended up on the one time, he had a job paying over 100,000 a year, a nice house in a rather expensive neighborhood in New Jersey, a family, friends, everything you could want. He was "blessed." Then things changed. The Torah does not require us to live as ascetics. However, it also does not give rein to greediness or "look at me, look at how 'blessed' I am in compariosn to the bums on the street." Those who take that should be ashamed of your arrogance. And watch may be the next to fall. Sometimes that is how G-d teaches the arrogant, the selfish, to change. If they don't see it when they are "blessed," maybe they will see it when they are less "blessed."

(6) G.M. Grena, February 15, 2010 5:18 AM

If You Don't Want To Work, You Don't Deserve Food. Period.

Hanna's father should have told her that it would do the beggar more harm (spiritually/ethically) to give him something for nothing. The best thing to do is to point him in the direction of an organization where trained social workers could help him. The truth is that most beggars are lazy bums who don't want genuine help; they just want unearned, tax-free income. There's nothing in the Torah that teaches us to be ashamed of God's material blessing. The same blessing is available to everyone. We should want to help people, & we should help other people, but we should not feel any guilt about what God has bestowed upon us.

(5) SusanE, February 15, 2010 5:09 AM

An $800,000. House is not Modest in My World.

If those people who wrote the book, gave away $800,000. they are far more wealthy than most of us. And they still have an $800,000. home to live in. They probably also still have the means to make more money, not counting the profits from the book. They are looked at as being generous and they live in a modest house worth only $800,000. If I lived in a house of that worth I would be seen as greedy and self serving. I tithed for a time on income which was $16,000. a year. The $1,600. came out of bill paying and grocery money. (the church I tithed to said I would never be in want if I tithed.....and that the money would come back to me, and they were right).--------------------- If a man made $50,000.00 a year and tithed $5,000. He could live quite comfortably on the $45,000. that was left. Just like the guy with the 800 thousand dollar home, what's he out? Nothing really. He gave out of his excess. The people of Ghanna benefited, and he still lives in luxury. Will he continue to give to them when that $800,000. is used up? ----------------------------------- Most people I know are pared down to the core with their money and resources. They don't have an excess from which to draw for others. My excess is time. I have lots of it to spare.

(4) Mary, February 14, 2010 8:51 PM

nothing new under the sun

It sounds like the Essenes of ancient Israel, the ascetics, the Spartans, the austere, the abstemious, the celebate- not my thing. They are welcome to it. As the saying goes "the poor will always be with us", and history has supported the statement. If one accepts that view, then one realizes that since the poor will be with us regardless, the objective being pushed by this teenager's philosophy is to wipe out the rich. "Rich" is good. It means abundance. Abundance coupled with generosity is nice. Abundance is what allows the US to help countries like Haiti. Generosity is also a personality characteristic of being bounteous. The system in Judaism was that the priestly class was supported by the other Jews so if the people did well the rabbis did well and that is a good thing. Judaism believes in Tzedackah so there is no finger pointing required.

(3) lisa, February 14, 2010 7:39 PM

how many shirts can we wear at one time??

very powerful that we need to hear over & over again!! My family has an excess of clothes...& bc of your message I will waste no time & start bagging up some excess clothes right now!!! Thanks!!!

(2) Yehudis, February 14, 2010 7:14 PM

Great point!

I've got alot of extra time!

(1) Rosen, February 14, 2010 2:01 PM

greed vs. giving

Since it is in our human nature to be greedy, where at an evolutionary standpoint greed tends to be something that we think will help us survive, it is more important to realize that as the Mishnah states, "he who is rich is satisfied with his lot." As for giving, it all depends on our selflessness. Frankly, I feel like when an impoverished individual comes up to me asking me for money, usually a small amount, I feel like he/she is sending me on a guilt trip since I may not have the time to either give him/her some money or buy a meal for them if I were to go into a restaurant or deli for lunch. That's why it is usually more trustworthy to send money to charitable organizations that have a favorable rating from Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau. It's also my understanding that there are Jewish organizations that give 100% of the money they receive directly to help those in need. It's all a matter of how much we give our 10% to help those in need and less of what we don't need ourselves. All too often, we buy things we don't really need and they get cluttered up in our homes usually after we lose interest in them. So it could be best to sell those unneeded items in a yard sale, or post them for sale on e-Bay or Craigslist. Then, we can see how much of our 10% we could send to those in need for their basic necessities. I often strive for less materialism and more simplicity as I am growing wiser. That's why on birthdays and Chanukah, I have been trying to not ask for much for myself in recent years.


Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment

Receive Weekly Current Issues Emails

Sign up to our Current Issues Newsletter.

Our privacy policy