Posted by: R Jonathan Gewirtz | August 14, 2015

A Penny for your Thoughts

richmanParshas R’eh contains numerous sections on tzedaka, charity, and from it we learn our priorities in giving.  For Jews, the question is not whether to give, but whom to give and how much.

One frequently-read section, Aser Taaser, (you shall surely tithe) has a well-known Talmudic interpretation.  In Taanis 9a the Gemara says, “Aser Bishvil Shetis’asher,” tithe so that you shall become rich. This explanation works because of the interchangeability of the letters sin and shin.

It seems counterintuitive, however.  How can I become wealthy if I give away what I have?  Won’t I become wealthier if I hoard every penny?

The answer is that money is not something one can hold onto.  It runs from person to person and the wheel of fortune turns.  That’s because “wealth and honor” belong to HaShem.

The people entrusted with wealth are to realize that they are but “wealth managers” for HaShem.  He tells them what He’d like to invest in: Torah scholars, widows and orphans, needy townspeople, and so on.  It’s not their money, but His.

HaShem says, “If you handle My money properly, I will entrust you with more.”  Alternatively, they may be blessed with satisfaction, meaning their wants are reduced, effectively making them “rich.”

Once again, it is G-d’s logic that prevails.  We are assured that one who gives tzedaka properly will never lose out because of it.  As HaShem tells us, “Try Me.  I’m good for it.”


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