The three pillars of the High Holy Days are like three keys; together, they open the gates of heaven, so that all of God’s blessings may be showered upon us in the coming year. And, with just over a week to go until Rosh Hashanah, which begins the High Holy Days, I want to discuss the third pillar of this sacred time of year.
We have already discussed the first two pillars, repentance and prayer, through which we reaffirm our obedience to God and deepen our relationship with Him. The work of the heart and soul culminate in the work of our hands through the third pillar, charity. By giving charity, we take our righteous thoughts and turn them into righteous action.
In Hebrew, the word for charity is tzedakah. It is comprised of two Hebrew words: tzedek (justice), and kah, a name of God. Together, these words describe charity as “the justice of God,” and as “righteous giving.”
Giving to the needy is not only an act of mercy, it is an act of righteousness, something that we must do as servants of God – not only because we want to, but also because it is the right thing to do. When we give tzedakah, we testify that everything in the world belongs to God. If we have been blessed, it is so we might bless others. God says, “The silver is mine and the gold is mine” (Haggai 2:8), the Bible tells us. Nothing is really ours in the first place.
Moreover, when we give to others from what we have, we demonstrate great faith. We trust that God will sustain us according to His promise that “Those who give to the poor will lack nothing” (Proverbs 28:27).
In addition, God declared that when we give tzedakah, not only will He pay us back, He will increase us. “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house,” God says. He promises, “Test me in this…and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it” (Malachi 3:10).
When we give tzedakah, we quite literally “put our money where our mouth is.” We take the faith that is in our heart, and the faith that we speak with our mouths, and turn it into action.
Finally, we focus on charitable giving during the High Holiday season because the poor and needy are God’s children. As we turn to our Father in Heaven for all of our needs, we cannot turn away from our brothers and sisters on earth who desperately need our help.
During the High Holiday season, The Fellowship provides thousands of needy Jews in Israel with food. These people pray for God’s sustenance and we have the opportunity to provide it on behalf of Christians around the world. God wants us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18). When we love each other, we help each other, and by giving tzedakah lovingly, we bring great pleasure to our Father in Heaven.
The High Holiday season is a time to focus on the pillars of our faith that should guide us all year long. I hope that you will join me, not just now, but throughout the year, in repentance, prayer, and charity, as we connect with God and bring more of His light, love, and blessings into the world.
With blessings from the Holy Land,
Tags: Charity High Holy Days IFCJ Judaism The Fellowship Three Pillars Yael Eckstein