Charity and Wealth – The Need To Give

 

Charity and Wealth

The Need To Give

Chapter 1 Why Do We Give Charity?

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We all know that charity is considered a virtue.

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Charity has become part of the fabric of our lives, of our entire society.

The Unites States in particular, with its humanitarian policies and its generosity in both domestic and foreign aid, has done more to promote charity than any other nation in the world.

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Through charity, we introduce unity into a diverse world.

Why do we feel compelled to give charity?

True, charity is the sign of a healthy and humane society, but without understanding why we give charity, why we feel a need to share with others, we are left with a paradox that ultimately limits our generosity: Doesn’t charity go against the very grain of human nature – that is, giving away what is rightfully ours?

And so, we must ask ourselves: Is generosity as much a part of human nature as selfishness?

How do we balance the two?

How can we teach our children to be more charitable?

How often should one give charity, and in what manner?

Should we give anonymously?

And above all, what does charity truly accomplish – for ourselves, for those in need, and for society at large?

Perhaps it would be healthier to simply be charitable without analyzing why, as many people do.

But the better you understand the true dynamic of charity, the more you can cultivate it within yourself, your family, and your friends.

And greater charity can only lead to a more meaningful life.

As is written in Proverbs “One that pursues charity and generosity finds life, righteousness and honor.”

The key to charity lies in understanding that it is not only a gift to the receiver, but to the giver as well.

The need to be charitable is one of the most fundamental human needs we have.

Just as we need food and protection and love, we need to share what has been given to us.

Charity is one of the simplest yet most profound ways to help refine the material world and unite with our fellow man and with G-d – and, therefore, to fulfill our cosmic mission.

Through charity, we introduce unity into a diverse world.

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Charity enables us to spiritualize the material, and to actualize our virtuous intentions.

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G-d could have easily distributed wealth evenly to all people.

But as the sages say, “If everyone were wealthy or poor, who would be generous?”

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Just as G-d continues to give – every fraction of time, every day on earth, charity allows us to give, thus becoming G-dlike ourselves.

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Remember: The money you give away is not your own, G-d has lent it to you to allow you the gift of giving.

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Those who have been blessed by G-d with the opportunity and privilege to be more giving have actually been blessed with the opportunity to be more G-dlike.

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So charity must be given with humility.

If a wealthy person gives arrogantly, thinking that he is doing a great favor, he is sadly mistaken: The favor is being done to him.

 

Recognizing this fact makes the act of giving charity that much more compelling.

 

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After all, G-d created the universe as an intricate system of give and take; our entire existence revolves around this relationship.

Just as plants, for instance, need the carbon dioxide that humans exhale, humans need the oxygen that plants produce.

Charity is yet one more expression of this pattern: the giver and the receiver need one another.

“More than the rich man does for the pauper,” say the sages, “the pauper does for the rich man.”

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Charity is an act of pure justice.

It is true that responsibility for your own life comes first.

But can your own comfort and pleasure be more valuable than your fellow man’s most basic necessities?

Can you pursue the highest levels of intellection and spiritual achievement when your fellowman needs guidance in the most basic of matters?

Chapter 2 What is the Power of Money?

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Charity is the greatest act of giving

Of the many forms of charity, the most powerful is monetary.

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Why? Because money is how most people measure their self-worth.

Because we invest so much time, energy, and labor into earning money, therefore, it represents the very energy of life itself.

So contributing your money to charity expresses the deepest form of giving and refining this physical world.

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It is G-d’s blessing not yours that makes you wealthy

Some people feel that they and they alone are responsible for their success, that their intelligence and abilities brought it about.

This is the challenge of wealth, and a serious challenge it is: to not be deceived by your own ego.

“You must remember that it is G-d who gives you the power to become prosperous.”

Without this recognition, money becomes the ultimate symbol of the selfish ego, our contemporary golden idol.

This is not to say that your success is not a result of your efforts, of course it is.

And you must do everything possible to ensure success, not just sit back and wait for money to come your way.

But you must acknowledge that it is G-d’s blessing, and not your own effort alone, that creates wealth.

As any experienced business person knows, all the planning and hard work in the world are no guarantee for success.

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Charity allows us to not be held hostage by our ego’s delusions

The power of charity is such that it does not allow you to become immersed in self-interest.

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Charity is the most powerful way to spiritualize the material

Virtuous acts are indeed good, and they elevate the soul, but giving money to charity is the most powerful way to spiritualize the material, for it means giving a piece of everything that we are – our abilities, our efforts, our success, our compassion.

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When you put money into perspective and recognize why it was given to you, it becomes a blessing instead of a curse.

On its own money can be a curse.

Because it is the epitome of materialism, money – and wealth – are mercurial by nature.

Money can cause therefore endless anxiety, for no matter how much you have, you are never sure whether you have enough or whether you will not somehow lose it all.

When you put money into perspective and recognize why it was given to you, it becomes a blessing instead of a curse.

And by using your wealth for charitable and philanthropic purposes, which are for posterity, instead of spending it on the desire of the moment, your money becomes eternal.

Chapter 3 How Should One Give Charity?

Practice and Theory

The Many Forms Of Charity

It is important to financially assist those in need, since we live in a material world where only money can buy the necessities in life.

Practice and Theory

But we must not forget that charity goes beyond the monetary.

We can give our time, our counsel, our sympathy.

We can invite a lonely person to dinner; we can give a teenager advice on how to handle a problem.

Practice and Theory

Even if a person has selfish motives when giving charity, or gives reluctantly, the objective has been reached for a needy person has been sustained.

Practice and Theory

Obviously, though, this is not the optimal charity; it is far better to give graciously and wholeheartedly.

It is even better to give anonymously when possible, especially if the donation would embarrass or shame the person in need.

Practice and Theory

The highest form of charity is something that we may not consider charity at all: providing a person with an opportunity so that he or she will no longer need to look to others for help.

Practice and Theory

You may provide a family with food and necessities for an entire year, or ten years or twenty.

This is indeed a gracious and charitable act.

But how much more gracious and charitable it would be to give the head of that family a job, or a loan, or another means to reestablish pride and self-respect, to be able to stand on his own two feet.

Practice and Theory

Needless to say charity must be given according to one’s means; it would be inappropriate, for example, to take out a loan in order to give charity.

Practice and Theory

Everyone, even a poor person, is obligated to give some charity.

Practice and Theory

The traditional amount is one-tenth of one’s income, or even better, one-fifth.

Ideally though, one should give everything to charity.

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Charity the Best Investment

When we recognize that G-d’s blessing is the ultimate source of wealth, charity becomes the wisest investment of all.

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If someone is having financial difficulty in his business, he should increase the amount of his charitable contributions in order to increase G-d’s blessings for his wealth.

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The sages say “Tithe so that you may become wealthy.”

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Charity opens up new channels of wealth from above.

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Indeed, before determining how much to bless a person in the future, G-d often watches to see how much he gave of his previous wealth.

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Beyond the financial aspect, charity enriches the mind and heart a thousandfold.

Practice and Theory

When you take time for a charitable act, even if it means setting aside an hour or an entire day that you thought you could not afford, you will find that you are rewarded many times over; with the added blessing from your charitable act, you will achieve well more than you could have if you had never lifted your attention – and your spirit – from your own affairs.

Above all, it is important to be a generous person all around.

Whatever the situation, you should give and help appropriately – not because you feel an obligation, but simply because you should strive to be a giver, to be G-dlike.

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Charity – the Call of Our Generation

It is the call of our generation to increase charity in every way possible.

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We live in times that are more materially prosperous and yet more spiritually impoverished than ever before.

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Even the most secure among us are in dire need of love and friendship.

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Especially because the United States is such a champion of charity, the citizens of this nation should all be inspired – and inspire others – to make charity a regular part of our lives.

Practice and Theory

When you are blessed with good fortune, you must learn to recognize it as an opportunity for giving not simply for personal gain.

Practice

There are many practical ways to encourage regular charity giving no matter how small it may be.

Place a charity box in the various rooms of your home, in your office, in your car.

Teach your children to give money and time to others.

Companies should cultivate generosity by regularly distributing money and goods that their employees can pass on to those in need, and schools should do the same for their students – a token gesture of a few pennies will do.

Practice and Theory

We must seek out new ways of giving and sharing.

Practice and Theory

Charity – The Need To Give

As long as there are needy people, we remain obligated to help them – not just for their sake, but for ours, because we are givers by nature.

Even if there were not one person on earth in need of a meal or rent money, there will always be room to give encouragement, inspiration and guidance.

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So look around and ask yourself: What do I have to give that can help another person?

Do not worry that you cannot be as generous as you would like, or that you don’t have the time to spare.

When it comes to giving of yourself, there is nothing too small, and nothing too great.

 

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