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