Word of the Day

Elul 19, 5779
September 19, 2019

While there are many ways to be generous (with our time, with our friendship, with our concern), the texts below focus on generosity as it relates to the concept of tzedakah (righteous giving, usually in the form of monetary gifts). Forming a habit of generosity when it comes to tzedakah helps us to redefine what we mean by “mine” or “ours” and allows us to experience the deep joy that comes from sharing what we have with others. 

From our Sources

If, however, there is a needy person among you, one of your kinsmen in any of your settlements in the land that the Eternal your God has given you, do not harden your heart and shut your hand against that person. Rather, you must open your hand and lend that person sufficient for what he or she needs.
-Deuteronomy 15:7-8

Giving even a small amount of tzedakah forces us to recognize the extent of poverty in the world, awakens our compassion toward others, and helps us see our wealth as God’s loan to us, rather than as a tribute to our own worth.
-Rabbi Jill Jacobs, There Shall Be No Needy

Our Sages have stated that the trait of generosity resides in habit, for one is not called generous until one becomes accustomed to giving, in every time and season, according to one’s ability. For one who gives to a deserving person 1,000 gold pieces at once is not as generous as one who gives 1,000 gold pieces one by one, each gold piece to an appropriate recipient. For one who gives 1,000 gold pieces at once is seized with a fit of generosity that afterwards departs.
-The Ways of the Tzadikkim, “The Gate of Magnanimity” (anonymous, 15 th century)


As you reflect on the past year, when have you opened your hand to those in need? 
How did you feel in doing so? 
When have you held back from giving to those in need? Why did you hold back?
Is generosity a habit for you? 
If not, can you think of ways of turning generosity into a habit in the coming year?