A program of The Mussar Institute 

Generosity Week
February 21 – 26, 2016

Generosity Week

Generosity Week – Day 4

Aryeh Wolbe: “Share Your Blanket”

Please watch Rabbi Wolbe’s 3-minute video:

Rabbi Aryeh Wolbe's video

Rabbi Wolbe introduces us to the concept of learning to give by sharing a story about the day that Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, Dean of the Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem, met with a group of very successful CEOs visiting from America. Rabbi Finkel told the visiting CEOs how, during the Holocaust, the death camp guards gave out one blanket for every six people. At night, the person who received the blanket had to decide, “Am I going to pull the blanket toward myself to stay warm, or am I going to push the blanket toward the other five people who did not get one?”

Rabbi Wolbe tells us that so many Jews were saved during the Holocaust because we always made the decision to push the blanket to five others. And he tells us that at the end of his story, Rabbi Finkel stood up and said to the businessmen, “Take your blanket. Take it back to America and push it to five other people.”

Through this rich analogy, Rabbi Wolbe reminds us of our role as the stewards of God's money. Telling us that we'll never miss the money that we give to charity, Rabbi Wolbe exhorts us to find a worthwhile charitable cause and then give to it generously.

Learning to give is a lesson that is learned through practice. Cultivating a spirit of generosity within ourselves is an important first step. But sharing our blanket can also include instilling a spirit of generosity in our children and grandchildren, creating a sustainable practice of generosity in our families. And so, by sharing our blanket, we become both learners and teachers.

Here are a few ways in which you may begin sharing your own blanket, as you cultivate a spirit of generosity within yourself and your family:

  • Include young children and/or grandchildren in family giving projects. Putting together donations for the food bank, clothing, and book drives is an excellent opportunity to model and inspire giving. Children learn far more from what we do than what we say. And by inviting their participation, we light their own flame of generosity at an early age.
  • Teach your children and/or grandchildren the meaning of stewardship by giving them small amounts of money to be directed toward charity. Have a tzedakah box prominently placed in your home, where coins can be dropped for sharing, and decide as a family where the funds will be donated.
  • Make a conscious decision to inspire future generations. Model generosity for your children and/or grandchildren to emulate. Let them see you as a giver.

Many of us can recall stories of parents or grandparents whose generosity inspired us. Have you been inspired to be a giver by a family member or friend or even by a story? Please visit our Facebook page and share your memories of learning to be a giver. Your story may inspire someone else to open their heart and hand.