I Give Charity but See No Blessing

September 8th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 14 comments

Question:

I give tzedaka (charity) every month yet there is no blessing. Why?

Asher

Answer:

Dear Asher,

All of us sometimes focus on our personal situations and end up missing the bigger picture. We’re sure you know that the blessings that come from being charitable are not in the form of a ‘pay for play’ scheme. It is not like inserting money in a vending machine and (unless the machine is broken) being guaranteed that the specific purchase you requested gets delivered promptly.

As individuals and as a society, we are blessed for taking care of the needy. In an amazing number of cases, individuals clearly see the blessing, and a society whose individuals care for each other is unmistakably a better place to live, but the blessings can also be hidden and delayed. Of course, blessing may be in the form of sparing us troubles—to us we see status quo when in reality we have been spared sorrow. For these reasons we take issue with your saying, “…yet there is no blessing.”

We suggest you focus on enjoying the sharing of your resources. In God’s picture, all of us are commanded to give a tenth of what we earn to those in need. This tithe actually doesn’t belong to us in the first place. As you may know, charity is not a very good translation of the Hebrew word ‘tzedaka,’ though it is the most common one.  The root word of ‘tzedaka’ means justice.  If we keep our tithe, we are being unjust and taking something that is not ours.

Furthermore, dear Asher, while giving charity, praying, and exhibiting compassion are all good activities favored by God, they are not substitutes for serving His other children economically.  Someone who is working industriously can certainly expect his charitable activities to bless his revenue.  However, someone who is not working at all but compassionately cares for others can hardly expect his non-existent revenue to be blessed.  Imagine a sailor praying to be speeded on his way but he has not raised his sails. He is not playing his role and he provides no way for God to bless him without invoking a miracle.  The sailor who diligently raised sail and points his boat in the right direction can surely pray for fair winds to speed him on his way.

You might want to concentrate on giving graciously and wisely while also ensuring that you are raising your sails. We have a feeling that the less you focus on seeing a return, the more return you will actually see.

Wishing you health, wealth and happiness,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

 

 

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14 comments

Linda says:

Amen and treasure in heaven as well. I thank God for every provision but most of all, the provision of salvation and fellowship with our Creator.

Susan Lapin says:

You are right, Linda.

Sherri says:

Tzedaka is in addition to out tythe was the way I was taught. Anyway I happily keep both and I know I’m protected and blessed so many times over not focused on just money but situations also.

Susan Lapin says:

You are so right, Sherri, that money is only one way we must give to others.

Elizabeth says:

The way I understand this, it is a blessing to be able to give charity .

Susan Lapin says:

It certainly is, Elizabeth. We are created needing to give and should be grateful for being able to do so.

Joan says:

Wow, every day one wakes up is a blessing. Rain is a blessing, every time you drive your car and arrive safely is a blessing, having housing, a job, food and a comfortable bed to sleep in is a blessing……the blessings are there, but one must appreciate what one has or what he receives will never ever seem to be enough!

Susan Lapin says:

Spot on, Joan.

Jeff Lestz says:

Rabbi Lapin as always is full of wisdom.
I have found that I do not ‘give to get’ but give because I have a grateful heart. It is amazing that ‘getting in the flow’ of living a blessed life seems to flow better when we are more preoccupied with giving more than receiving! It’s a paradox but it does work.
Thank you for your insight! Love, you and your family and ministry.

Susan Lapin says:

Wonderful to hear from you, Jeff. Thanks for your input.

Rabbi and Susan,

Ever since reading “Thou Shall Prosper,” I’ve made it a habit to tithe. Being involved in a family business (and my own little business), I don’t always get a paycheck. Still, I tithe. Somehow, things work out. It’s a blessing from God for sure!

Susan Lapin says:

May the blessings continue.

Valerie says:

Blessings abound if I’m looking for them thru eyes of thanksgiving. But i like your wisdom of needing to get up off my chair and raise those sails so I can show my appreciation to Him for all His blessings. Loved your book, Thou Shall Prosper. It was so eye opening to understand the old testament better. Deeply appreciate it, think I will go read it again. 🙂

Brian says:

Where your treasure is, your heart will be also. Giving to charity starves the selfish (natural) nature in all f us. Why do you think we have to teach children to share? It doesn’t come naturally.

The fact that you’re able to even share with others is amazing. Focus on giving and remember that God will always meet your needs and you’ll always have plenty left over to give to others even more!

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