web analytics
September 16, 2014 / 21 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



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
Finance Minister Yair Lapid, chairman of the Yesh Atid party.
Lapid Won’t Let Defense Demands Turn Into ‘Turkish Bazaar’
Latest Judaism Stories
15th century Book of the Torah

This week’s parsha offers a new covenant; a covenant that speaks to national life unlike any other

Leff-091214

All Jews are inherently righteous and that is why we all have a portion in the World to Come.

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

If mourning is incompatible with Yom Tov, why is it not incompatible with Shabbat?

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

Since it is a Rabbinic prohibition we may follow the more lenient opinion.

How can the Torah expect me today, thousands of years after the mitzvahs were given, to view each mitzvah as if I’m fulfilling it for the first time?

Torah isn’t a theological treatise or a metaphysical system but a series of stories linked over time

In contrast to her Eicha-like lamentations of the previous hour or more, however, my youngest was now grinning from ear-to-ear.

An Astonishing Miracle
‘Why Bring the Infants to Hakhel?’
(Chagigah 3a)

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

e are in a time of serious crisis and must go beyond our present levels of chesed.

According to Ibn Ezra, the Torah was stressing through this covenant that hypocrisy was forbidden.

“Tony said that the code in most places in the U.S. is at least 36 inches for a residential guardrail,” replied Mr. Braun. “Some make it higher, 42, or even 52 inches for high porches. What is the required height according to halacha?”

Simcha is total; sahs is God’s joy in protecting us even when we are most vulnerable.

Not only do we accept You as our King, it is our greatest desire that the name of Your Kingdom be spread throughout the entire universe.

More Articles from Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

“There is nothing new under the sun” is as valid today as it was yesterday.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

The time immediately preceding Mashiach’s arrival is likened to the birth pangs of a woman in labor.

If we regard pain and suffering as mere coincidence, we will feel no motivation to examine our lives

What does Hashem want of us? That we should protect each other and the awesome heritage He gave us.

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.

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: