Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. — Deuteronomy 14:22
The Torah portion for this week is Re’eh, which means “see,” from Deuteronomy 11:26–16:17, and the Haftorah is from Isaiah 54:11–55:5.
A story is told about an ambitious young man who tells his pastor that he has promised to tithe his income. Together, the pastor and the man pray for God to bless his career. At that time, the man was making $40 a week and contributed $4 to the church. As time went by, the young man became increasingly successful to the point where he was tithing $500 a week. At that point, the man called up the pastor to see if he could be released from his tithing promise as it was too costly now. The pastor replied, “I don’t see how you can be released from your promise, but we can ask God to reduce your income back to $40 a week, then you'd have no problem tithing $4.”
God judges what we give by what we keep.
In this week’s reading we are commanded to give away at least 10 percent of what we earn. Jewish tradition teaches that we should give away more than that – up to 20 percent of our earnings (but no more). While that may seem difficult and counter-productive to someone trying to make ends meet, the Jewish sages offer this encouragement. Those who want to become wealthy should tithe their money. The sages add that it’s impossible to become poor from giving to charity. On the contrary, they say, the more you give your money away, the more you receive.
How can that be true?
A prestigious man was once asked how he could give away so much money to charity and yet still be so wealthy, and this is what he replied: “Oh, as I shovel it out, He shovels it in, and the Lord has a much bigger shovel!”
When God sees that we use our money as it is meant to be used, He blesses us with more. Our contributions are essentially our best investments. Perhaps this is what the verse in Proverbs 22 means when it says, “A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor” (v.9). So in actuality, even more than the rich man is helping the poor man, the poor man is helping the rich man – because he gives him an opportunity to help himself and earn great rewards.
Friends, we are so grateful for all of the contributions that so many good people from around the world have contributed to the many purposes of The Fellowship. We pray that as you bless Israel, God will bless you. We trust that, whatever you give to help others will be returned to you with the Lord’s much bigger shovel.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President