Highest Form of Charity

Most people, including myself, consider tzedakah to be at its highest form when the donor and recipient are unknown to each other. Yet there is something even higher.

“The highest form of charity is to help sustain a person before they become impoverished by offering a substantial gift in a dignified manner, or by extending a suitable loan, or by helping them find employment or establish themselves in business so as to make it unnecessary for them to become dependent on others.” http://judaism.about.com/od/beliefs/a/charity_nine.htm

This is the act of parenting, befriending, and reaching out. It is the act of teaching what you know from the point of view of the recipient. It is my way of proving my own worth to myself, knowing that each day I have done something, said something or felt something that gets passed on, or “paid forward.” It isn’t enough to have the “audacity of hope” (which is the perfect starting point). We must act on hope and do things that bring our hopes and dreams into reality. 

The courage and commitment to act can be great or small. A gangly African American with the name of Barack (close to baruch, blessing) is at this time taking the ultimate leap of hope and faith and putting his life on the line for it. Most of us are not imbued with the ambition and fortitude it takes to do that unless the threat of extinction comes close. But we all have something of that in us and acting on it is what could make our society more ethical, more fair, with justice and sufficient resources for everyone. 

We have all learned lessons of faith and responsibility. We have all had our moments of truth where we shared our best thoughts for the best benefit of someone else. My prayer this morning is that we all do just a little bit more than we did yesterday, starting today, as our gift to G-d for this day and any additional days granted to us in this life. 

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