web analytics
July 23, 2014 / 25 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Looking Back II

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

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

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.

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.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Looking Back II”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
UN Secy-Gen Ban Ki-moon and outgoing Pres. Shimon Peres. Wednesday July 23 2014
Peres Warns Qatar to Stop Funding Terror in Gaza, Praises UN’s Ban
Latest Judaism Stories
PTI-071814

Perhaps, just perhaps, we can relate to this: whenever we feel distant from Hashem, that is the Churban.

Parshat Matot

Over the next 2 weeks covering portion Matot and Maasei, Rabbi Fohrman will bring order to confusion.

Lessons-Emunah-logo

Our home is in the center of the Holy Land, surrounded by (what else?) green hills and valleys.

Business-Halacha-logo

“Sound fine,” said Mrs. Schwartz. “In the middle, paint their names, Shoshana and Yehonasan. He spells his name Yehonasan with a hei and is very particular about it!”

Question: I recently returned from a trip abroad and wanted to say HaGomel. When I mentioned this to the officers of my synagogue, however, they told me – as per the instructions of the synagogue’s rabbi – that I would have to wait until Shabbos to do so. I was not given any reason for this and did not wish to display my ignorance, so I quietly acquiesced. Can you please explain why I had to wait?

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

We may not recognize the adverse affect of eating forbidden foods, but they leave an indelible imprint.

There are several rules that one must adhere to when making a neder.

Important message for Jews in the Diaspora: In times of need run to Israel rather than from Israel.

The negotiation between Moses and the tribes of Reuven and Gad is a model of conflict resolution.

Once again we find ourselves alone – a little lamb among wolves.

When we return to our routines, things don’t have to go back to exactly the way they were.

The Three Weeks determines the “who we are and how we live” as Jews.

Sometimes when Chazal say that two different people are really one, they do not mean it literally, but rather figuratively.

The midrash says that Pinchas, (this parsha), and Eliyahu, prophet of Kings, are one and the same.

More Articles from Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Gratitude=Great Attitude. Appreciation is always appropriate.

The two words “thank you” have no time expiration; even if spoken after many years they’re as potent as ever.

Let us shake the heavens. Let us not stop until our boys and all our people are liberated from bondage.

Loving-kindness can cure the anger and bitterness in our poisonous world.

The Hebrew word for coincidence is mikreh, which comes from “karah min Hashem – it happened from G-d.”

Saying “thank you” to people to whom we are indebted is humbling – especially if we’ve been raised in a culture of entitlement.

To his very last day he struggled to transcend his pain so that he might impart Torah to all who visited him.

    Latest Poll

    Israel's Iron Dome Anti-Missile System:





    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: