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A program of The Mussar Institute 

Generosity Week — Day 2

Jewish Teen Funders Network: Tzedakah dor l’dor

Please watch the Jewish Teen Funders Network 2-minute video:

Jewish Tean Funders Networks's video

Watching the video, we are taken by how wonderful it is to hear our youth excited about the mitzvah of tzedakah. Giving tzedakah is a significant obligation of Jewish life. Like many obligations which we take seriously, this one is not without challenges. First, how do we elevate the obligation above mere rote adherence? Stated positively, how do we impart spiritual significance to the mitzvah? Second, how do we ensure its endurance? That is, how do we pass it on with meaning to our children and grandchildren?

Jewish Teen Funders NetworkRabbi Yisrael Salanter has said the spiritual is higher than the physical, but the physical needs of another are an obligation of my spiritual path. In other words, paying attention to the physical needs of others is a way of lifting ourselves spiritually. What better way to attend to the physical needs of others than through charity? What a beautiful thought that in giving our hard earned money to those in need, we are igniting a direct path to our own spiritual enlightenment.

How can we put generosity into practice so that it will encourage both our spiritual development and generational continuity? It is well accepted that children learn exponentially more from what we do rather than from what we say. The good news is that our spirit responds to our actions in a way that mere thought cannot. And the greater the frequency of our actions, the greater the spiritual impact.

Tzedaka boxSo here’s the practice idea … the Tzedakah box. Keep it prominently in your home at all times. Make it a daily ritual to give to it. At breakfast or before retiring for the night are good times. Have each person in your home give a small but consistent amount every day. It is said it is better to create a giving heart by giving $1 a day for 1,000 days than to give $1,000 all at once. Once a month, at a family dinner, discuss how the tzedakah will be used for that month. Be sure everyone has a voice. Give everyone plenty of advance notice of the monthly meeting so that ideas can form and flow. It is likely that in no time at all, everyone will look forward to these meetings as the spirit of generosity becomes a defining aspect of your family life.

In short order, you will feel the joy of possessing a giving heart. In doing as described here, you will also experience the deep satisfaction of dor l’dor ... importing this most significant mitzvah to the next generations.

And while you’re sharing, please share your responses, experiences and insights on our Facebook page so that we might learn from one another as we build our generosity muscles.

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