Â TZEDDAKAH! TZEDAKKAH!
Parashat Ki Tetzeh
is difficult to give, only if you believe that the money you earned was earned by your hard work alone, and not given to you by G-d. Tzeddaka is one of the greatest tests on your core beliefs, measuring how much you believe that G-d is in your life and involved in your successes. Listen in to a conversation that the rich man has in his subconscious, that he, himself, might not be aware of…
“But I worked so hard for my money! If G-d gave it to me, why did I need to work so hard for it?”
There are those who worked harder than you, that are smarter than you and did not make the money you made. There are those who had much more money than you, and now, they have much less. So, why do you still have the money that’s in your account? G-d. G-d. G-d.
“But I came up with the business idea! It was my brainstorming! Not G-d’s!”
Your creativity is from your Creator. Your brainstorming – your brain is just some noodle mush.
We start the middle blessings of the Amidah by confessing this to G-d. ××ª×” ×—×•× ×Ÿ ×œ××“× ×“×¢×ª … Â You grant Man Knowledge, Understanding, and Wisdom. This is the greatest confession Man can ever make to G-d. All my intellectual achievements came from You. The greatest honor you can give someone is appreciating and honoring his opinions, ideas and beliefs, because, naturally, people attribute “thinking” to the big “I”. “I thought of a great idea.” “I believe…” “I am of the opinion…” So, that is how we start our prayers. “G-d, You give me knowledge, and I need You so, soÂ greatly in life.”
99% of success in today’s business world boils down to an advantage in one of these three fields: Knowledge, Understanding or Wisdom. Whether it is financial intelligence, being street smart, book smart, or whatever smart, money comes to the ones who use the grey matter, the “noodle mass”, the brain. What is that matter? I saw it once in a jar, in a Museum, when I was 12 years old. A jar of noodles. So, Who generates guts? How does it work without batteries? Who decides when the brain will be focused and when it won’t be? G-d. G-d .G-d.Â Sometimes, such wise people make such foolish mistakes and lose all their life’s savings. A little, humble reminder of how much we need G-d in life. And, once we realize how much G-d has given us, and how generously He gives us tzaddakah, it will be much easier for us to give others, as well. We would feel like that overflowing cup.
Some approach Elul on fire. Others, on ice. Most religious Jews are somewhere in between, waiting for some outside factor to heat them up, motivate them, to have the Elul they are “supposed” to have. Someone sent me a letter in Hebrew, to wake me up, but all it did was shake me up. The letter was headedÂ “letter from the Heavenly Courts”, telling me that I am being summoned by my Father, the Judge, to stand trial, in thirty days time. I will not be allowed to come with any lawyers, witnesses on my behalf, and I will be unable to deny any claims against me. The claims against me will be that I have not learned Torah on the level that I could, I have not given enough tzeddakah , I have not guarded my eyes properly, I have spoken Lashon Hara. Etc. I will not write the punishments in this article, as they are too harsh. The only way to make things easier, to tilt the verdict in my favor, is to admit that I have sinned, and to try to better myself in the course of these Elul days. To give Tzeddakah, learn Torah, and perform acts of kindness. If I am found guilty, I will be graced with ten days to change my behavior, and, ultimately, change my fate. Signed, Heavenly Court.
I was shaken up by the letter although nothing changed inside. But, when I read the words in Selichot, ×œ×š ×”’ ×”×¦×“×§×”, ×•×œ× ×• ×‘×•×©×ª ×”×¤× ×™× , I twisted the meaning of the words a bit, and it twisted my heart.Â To you G-d, you are the One who gives me Tzeddaka, and all I own is embarrassment. All that I have is Tzeddaka from G-d, and I owe You so much. I felt motivated by that thought. I felt that everything I have ever had, possessed, or done in life was asking me to give it all for Him. My energy, my thoughts. My money, my time. All for G-d. For as long as I think this thought, I am on fire. I am to my Beloved…