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Money bags waiting for distribution...

Perhaps even more importantly, we may not undervalue the possibility that a good act will inspire more good acts. If we reject their overtures for charity, we may think we are sending them a message to improve their behavior before we accept charity from them, but they might be receiving a message that we don’t value their good acts. This is likely to push them further away from inspired living. Instead, we welcome their attempts to make positive contributions to the world. We encourage them to do more good acts. We hope that by giving charity they are inspired to do better.

We can probably even expand this principle to inform our behavior towards non-observant Jews who take an interest in other aspects or rituals in our tradition. We should assume their intentions are pure. We should encourage them to participate and join our celebrations. It seems odd that one would need to take a stand on this issue, but unfortunately my experience has been that we don’t do a good enough job in this area. Too often they are met with skepticism and rejection for not conforming completely and being fully compliant. The Maharam Shick would welcome them. I agree.

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Rabbi Eliyahu Fink, J.D. is the rabbi at the famous Pacific Jewish Center | The Shul on the Beach in Venice CA. He blogs at finkorswim.com. Connect with Rabbi Fink on Facebook and Twitter.
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