Why We Tithe

Like Jacob, we should not wait for a better day to help others.

Commentary on Parashat Vayetzei, Genesis 28:10 - 32:3

We all have something to give.  By giving, we show that we are responsible for those less fortunate in our communities and, more broadly, in the world. We can give financially, starting as small as a child setting aside a small part of his or her allowance. Or we can give by volunteering our time. Especially when we feel things are missing in our own lives, helping others can help us realize how we are blessed in different ways.

In this week’s Torah portion, Vayetze, Jacob promises to give a tenth of everything he receives. At this point, he has nothing. He has just run away from home and left everything behind.  Having no idea what is before him, he makes this promise. If he remains poor, a tenth would be a small gift, but a dear sacrifice. If he grows wealthy, a tenth would be a much larger gift, but perhaps easier to part with. Jacob makes this promise: whatever comes his way, he will give a tenth of it.

 

Giving to those less fortunate than ourselves can help us recognize the great blessings in our lives. It reminds us that we cannot take full credit for the richness we receive. Just as Jacob did not know what was before him, we do not know what the future will bring for us. But, like Jacob, we should not wait for a better day to help others; we should commit to help today – and every day.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about ways your family is able to help others.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

· In what ways do you feel blessed?

· Who in your community needs your help?  Who in the broader global community?

· How does it feel to give to those less fortunate than you when you don’t feel that you have a lot to give?

· Does giving of our time bring a different kind of satisfaction from giving money or objects?

From “Values and Ethics: Torah Topics for Today,” available from Behrman House Publishers.

 

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