When you make a loan of any kind to your neighbor, do not go into their house to get what is offered to you as a pledge. Stay outside and let the neighbor to whom you are making the loan bring the pledge out to you. — Deuteronomy 24:10–11
The year 2018 is important for Israel and the Jewish people as we celebrate the modern State of Israel’s 70th Birthday. You can be part of this momentous milestone with Rabbi Eckstein’s 70 devotions offered now through April 19, Israel’s Independence Day. These devotions are tied to our Keys to Israel – six fundamental principles underlying God’s covenantal relationship with His chosen people and His Holy Land using the acrostic I.S.R.A.E.L.
This devotion is part of ten devotions focusing on the letter “R” — Righteous Giving — and will explore the commandment God gave to His people as they entered the Promise Land to care for the poor and the oppressed.
Not all giving is the same. While the act itself of making a financial donation might look the same on the outside, what’s on the inside of the giver makes all the difference.
Some giving comes with strings attached, where the giver expects something in return from the recipient. In those instances, the recipient is made to feel that he or she “owes” their benefactor, be it exaggerated honor, total compliance, or something else. Then there is giving with feelings of judgment and disparagement of the recipient. While these feelings might not be put into words, attitude can still be felt deeply by the recipient.
Finally, there is also giving with generosity and love. The giver expects nothing in return from the recipient. This is giving with dignity where the benefactor doesn’t diminish the beneficiary, but honors and respects the person regardless of his or her situation. These sentiments can also be sensed by the recipient even if they are not expressed vocally.
In these verses from Deuteronomy 24, God makes it clear that He wants us to give to others in a way that helps the recipient without diminishing his or her dignity. Among the laws laid down in chapter, Scripture teaches that when a person gives a loan to a person, he or she may not enter the home of the recipient in order to collect the collateral. Rather, the person receiving the loan must bring the collateral out to the lender.
Such delicate sensitivity protects the dignity of the person receiving the loan. The Torah continues and explains that if the item of collateral is the borrower’s coat, the lender must return it at night if the borrower is poor, so that he or she will not go to sleep cold. Again, we are encouraged to help the person in a truly thoughtful manner.
With so many ways to give to others, it is essential that we get it right. This is why when The Fellowship launched our program to help Israel’s needy elderly, many of whom are Holocaust survivors, we called the program With Dignity and Fellowship. Giving the project such a title underscores our goal of helping the elderly in a way that provides them not just physical assistance, but also revives their soul. Financial aid is accompanied by companionship. Assistance is provided with honor and respect. The recipients are given a chance to share as well – their stories, their wisdom, and their fellowship.
Next time we offer assistance to someone, let’s pay attention to how we give. Are we giving without judgment? Do we have unspoken expectations? When we are generous and respectful in our giving, we can revitalize a person in crisis – both body and soul.
Join the celebration and get the entire Keys to I.S.R.A.E.L. curriculum for free — for you, your small group, or even your church.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President