Weekly Jewish Wisdom
March 23, 2017
Raising Kids to Give
Every Jewish holiday contains a mechanism for giving tzedaka. The happiness we typically associate with a holiday is dimmed if we cannot share it with others in need. Maimonides calls the joy of one who feasts at a holiday without providing for others "belly happiness." It's the narcissistic happiness of one who enjoys a full belly while others go with empty stomachs, envious of the food abundance of some and the inequity of their condition.
Passover is no exception. We are told explicitly in a Mishna that we are not allowed to give a poor person fewer than four cups of wine. We might easily delude ourselves into thinking that for a person who has nothing, one or two cups of wine would be plenty. But then we would be separating ourselves from them in the performance of this commandment. The Mishna does not tell us to provide four cups but rather that we not give less than four. Wealth can fool us into a sense of false generosity. In Zaide Smith's masterful new novel Swing Time, her central character ponders inequality and its cost: "No one is more ingenious than the poor, wherever you find them. When you are poor every stage has to be thought through. Wealth is the opposite. With wealth you get to be thoughtless."
Tweets on the Today's Page of Talmud (Daf Yomi)
“The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing," Joshua Harris.
Bava Batra 66b: "Do not raise this dilemma...When should you raise this dilemma?" In an argument, timing is everything.
"One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory," Rita Mae Brown.
Bava Batra 65b: "One who sells a house has sold the door, the door bolt and the lock but not the key." So how does one get through the door?
Tell a better story this Passover: https://t.co/sNCESlCFJB
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need," Khalil Gibran.