web analytics
April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Looking Back II

When we give to others we are only returning that which He gave us.
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Share Button

Last week’s I posed a question: Now that Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur have passed, will our resolutions to start a new life really last or will we leave our promises to G-d locked in our machzors until next year?

I suggested that we adopt that threefold formula of teshuvah, tefillah, tzedakah and make it our GPS system (G-d’s Perfect System).

Actually, tzedakah does not mean charity, though it is often translated that way. It is derived from the word tzedek, which means justice or righteousness, teaching us that to give to others is not an option but an obligation to do justice. Money is given to us by G-d to share with others, not for self-indulgence or for pampering ourselves with more and more.

Admittedly, in our society this is a foreign concept. We want to be “successful” and raise our children to make “success” their life goal. We never ask when it will be enough. Another house, another car, another shopping spree, another vacation –it never ends.

But if you bear in mind our Torah legacy you will recall the passage from the prophet Haggai: “Mine is the silver and Mine is the gold.” Our money, our holdings, our businesses, our portfolios, our real estate – all of it belongs to Hashem and when we depart this world we will leave it all behind and appear before G-d as naked and as bereft of possessions as we were the day we were born.

When we give to others we are only returning that which He gave us. Charity, on the other hand, is a totally different concept. It is derived from the Latin word caritas, love, suggesting that we have an option to give to those we love and withhold from those we dislike. In our world of tzedakah such an option does not exist. Whether we like someone or not we have a responsibility to give, for that is the true meaning of tzedakah and that is our very calling as a people.

When I was a little girl growing up in Hungary there were tzedakah boxes in every home, no matter how impoverished; a pushka into which coins were dropped on every occasion. The pushka became part of our lives. In lieu of yesterday’s pushkas many children today are given “piggy banks” – a term that screams self-indulgence: it’s all for me! On the other hand, the pushka teaches that my money is there to share with others – that I save it in order to give it away.

It’s not only the act of collecting money that’s important but also the manner in which it’s imparted. Allow me to share a story.

I was teaching my usual Hineni Torah class and a young man started showing up on a regular basis. He was homeless and mentally and emotionally impaired. He hardly spoke to us but he stayed long into the night, listening to words of Torah, eating and resting. A few weeks before Rosh Hashanah I explained the concept of tzedakah. Soon afterward he approached me.

“Rebbetzin,” he said, “I’ve been thinking about what you said. Can I give you tzedakah?”

“Oh,” I said, “I’d be so grateful. How kind of you.”

And with that he reached into his pocket and handed me a stick of gum. He gave it to me with a warm smile. That piece of gum for him was greater than all the money a millionaire gives away. The millionaire doesn’t feel a pinch. His wealth remains. But that piece of gum meant great sacrifice to this young man. Anxiously, he awaited my reaction.

“Do you like it?” he asked.

“Do I like it? Jonathan [not his real name], it’s the best thing you could have given me! My throat gets so dry when I speak that after my class I’m always searching for a piece of gum, and this flavor is the one I like best. Thank you. Thank you.”

I told him I was so proud of him and that I noticed how he’d even made sure the gum was kosher. Jonathan’s sad face broke into a joyous grin. He looked as if I had rendered a testimonial dinner in his honor.

We collected money and took Jonathan shopping for a nice suit and provided him with a ticket to return home to his parents in Los Angeles. A few years later I was speaking in L.A. and at the conclusion of the evening, while I was signing my books, I saw him. He came over.

“Rebbetzin, when I heard you were coming I bought the same gum.” He sheepishly held out the pack to me.

“Jonathan,” I said, “I can’t believe it. How did you remember?”

“I just did,” he said proudly.

Jonathan was still struggling the way he had been in New York. His problems remained but his beautiful heart spoke volumes and his neshamah allowed him to soar high above the craziness of our world where people lust for more and more and in the process lose their morals and values and destroy their families.

I do not know how Hashem judge us on that Final Day but one thing I do know: Jonathan will be right up there receiving his distinction and honor. His gum will speak for him.

Veheyei berachah – and you shall be a blessing – was the call of G-d to our father Avraham. Take note – it’s not “be blessed” but “be a blessing” to others.

Share Button

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “Looking Back II”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Arab rioters hurl objects at Israeli security personnel who use pepper spray to quell the violence emanating from the Al Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount.
Arab Violence Closes Temple Mount to Visitors Again
Latest Judaism Stories

The following is President Obama’s statement on Passover (April 14, 2014). As he has in the past, the President held an official Passover Seder at the White House. Michelle and I send our warmest greetings to all those celebrating Passover in the United States, in Israel, and around the world. On Tuesday, just as we […]

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

The tendency to rely on human beings rather than G-d has been our curse throughout the centuries.

Haggadah used at the Passover Seder

“Who is wise? One who learns from each person” (Pirkei Avot 4:1)

Rabbi Sacks

In Judaism, to be without questions is a sign not of faith, but of lack of depth.

“I’ll try to help as we can,” said Mr. Goodman, “but we already made a special appeal this year. Let me see what other funds we have. I’ll be in touch with you in a day or two.”

Rashi is bothered by the expression Hashem used: “the Jews need only travel.”

Reckoning Time
‘Three Festivals, Even Out Of Order’
(Beizah 19b)

Two husbands were there to instruct us in Texas hold ‘em – and we needed them.

Question: Why do we start counting sefirat ha’omer in chutz la’aretz on the second night of Pesach when the omer in the times of the Beit Hamikdash was cut on Chol HaMoed?

M. Goldman
(Via E-Mail)

A few background principles regarding the prohibitions of chametz mixtures on Pesach may provide some shopping guidance.

According to the Rambam, the k’nas applies to any chametz on Pesach with which one could, in theory, transgress the aveirah – even if no transgression actually occurred.

She was followed by the shadows of the Six Million, by the ever so subtle awareness of their vanished presence.

Marror is the reliving of the bitter enslavement and matzah is the under-eighteen-minutes redemption.

Rabbi David Bar-Hayim argues it is time for Ashkenazim to abandon the prohibition against Kitnyot. What do you think?

More Articles from Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

The tendency to rely on human beings rather than G-d has been our curse throughout the centuries.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

We have windows of history, of Yom Tovim, but the dust continues to obscure our vision.

On Shabbos Zachor the Torah commands us to “Remember what Amalek did to you.”

We should invite divorced people into our homes for Shabbas and Yom tov.

I attended the recent Shabboton for frum divorced people and listened to your talk. You gave me hope to go on. I was very despondent when I came and went home considerably more upbeat. It was all due to your focus on “being a blessing.”

One can sigh with relief when the divorce is finalized but the heart is full and it aches with pain. Yes, there were conflicts. Yes, there was a cold war that made for a frigid atmosphere in the home. But loneliness is a very difficult thing to bear.

My ex despises me and is bent on destroying me. He has done everything to torture me.

The Torah tells us that ancient Egypt had 49 levels of contaminating impurities and Hashem wanted us out before the fiftieth would become viral.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/looking-back-ii/2013/10/03/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: