Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 5 Mishna 16: Giving Charity is worth it! - Orthodox Conversion Paste your Google Webmaster Tools verification code here

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 5 Mishna 16: Giving Charity is worth it!

“There are four types of donors of charity: He who gives and does not want others to give begrudges others; he who wants others to give but will not give himself begrudges himself; he who gives and wants others to give is saintly; he who will not give and does not want others to give is wicked”

The Mishna here describes people who either give or not give charity or want others to give charity or not. An interesting point that the Mishna makes is that whatever a person does is his own decision but why try and convince others not to do something? Why is it that one will go out their way to influence others not to give as well?

The Torah obligates every Jew to give ten percent of their earnings after taxes. If a person wants to they can give up to twenty percent but no more lest they become dependent on others if they give too much. After we have worked hard for our money it is not such an easy thing to want to give to others. We can say that if they work hard as well they will earn enough of a livelihood, so why should I help them?

It could be the person has entered a difficult period or there are other expenses that are dragging them down or they are sick or any number of maladies that could cause a person to need help from others. If we are doing our best to make ends meet and we are doing ok, what a mitzvah it is to help someone else if we can.

G-d teaches us a tremendous lesson by obligating us to give to others. He gives us the opportunity to understand whatever we have is only temporary and we won’t be taking any of it in the next world! We are allowed to use it in this world but we can elevate it by helping those less fortunate than us even though we may not have that much to give. It teaches us to appreciate what we have and be benevolent to others.

Rabbi Akiva was once asked if G-d has all the power in the world to give people money, why are there poor people? Rabbi Akiva answered that it gives the opportunity to those that have money to give to others which will save the from any troubles in this world and uproot bad decrees as well G-d forbid that may come upon a person!

A person has to learn from a young age that money they have or whatever they have in this world is only temporary. Yes you need it to live and survive but it has the potential to do so many good things like helping sustain Torah scholars or help out schools…Imagine the holiness of this money when it is used for the right purpose. We can also encourage others and help them with this great mitzvah which they themselves benefit from in so many spiritual ways that we cannot even fathom!

When we encourage others we become partners with G-d. We want to help give of our ourselves which inevitably will make us more humble and have a greater appreciation for everything that G-d has done for us! We must never forget this and always remember what we have is on loan and G-d can take it back whenever He wants!

If G-d forbid we discourage people from helping even though they have free choice to do what they want, we potentially harm others as well. If someone were to have given even a minimal donation and we convince them not to do it, then the tremendous benefits of giving to charity are taken away from them which the Mishna calls evil! Who knows how many bad things that could have been uprooted had this person given charity!! It saves lives and help others at the same time? Isn’t that alone worth it?

About the Author RabbiChaimCoffman