Mussar on Generosity
“That which we give to another person is never lost. It is an extension of our own being. We can see a part of ourselves in the one to whom we have given. This is the attachment between one person and another to which we give the name ‘love.’”
– Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler
19th century Mussar scholar
When you encourage your hand to open to others, you cultivate the quality of generosity in your heart. That is a good and worthy aim in its own right, but in reality, there are even more benefits of being generous. Jewish thought tells us that our spiritual lives center on relationships — between a person and his or her own soul, with other people, and with God. Being generous builds a strong generosity “muscle” that can handle the load that confronts you in your life, but it also enhances your key relationships, even with yourself. And it does even more — generosity is the process for creating those relationships.
The heart gives freely when it realizes that it is not a separate and isolated entity, but rather belongs to a larger whole. Giving comes easily to such a heart because it experiences no rupture between the one who gives and the one who receives. Therefore, give to whom you would love.
Generosity by its nature draws closer the giver and the receiver, until ultimately there is neither “me” nor “you” but only love.
What does generosity mean to you? Here's what our subscribers say:
- Forgiveness and kindness towards those whom one may not normally feel that way.
Freely and mindfully giving one's energy and resources.
- An open heart.
- Assuming the best in others and their intentions, greeting every one and each moment with a cheerful inner and outer countenance, allowing the natural well spring of chesed and tzedakah their full expression.
- Being a philanthropist.
- Compassion, presence.
- Freely giving my time, money, attention, and caring to others without resentment or expectation of reciprocation, because it is the right thing to do.
- Generosity has the most impact, both ways, when it is least expected. My challenge to myself will be to find new ways in which to be generous – through deeds, charity, words, gifts, time, thoughts.
- Generosity is giving of yourself in any way, shape or form that you can.
- Generosity is giving without any thought of getting anything in return. It is giving for the sake of kindness.
- Generosity means for me the ability to contribute to others.
Generosity means having an open heart and feeling 'full'-filled and blessed by reaching out to others in patience and love.
- Generosity means offering to others or to causes our valued resources – time, money, energy, physical help, talents, prayers or thoughts. Generosity is a mindset that empowers people to see opportunities of giving and enables them to share.
- Generosity means paying attention to the needs of others through observation, inquiry and sensitivity. It means asking if I can be of help, even when it is inconvenient for me. It means giving of my heart, time, energy or materially.
- Generosity means taking the golden rule of "doing unto others what you would want done to you" and expanding it to "do unto others what they can not do for themselves and do NOT do unto other what they can," so that there may be the gift of dignity.
- Generosity means treating every human being as equal - equal to each other and equal to me. As I hope others extend to me the benefit of the doubt, so I must extend that same attitude toward every other human being. Oy! Have I got a lot of work to do.
- Generosity of heart is innate and does not originate in one's bank account or assets, but in one's desire to give freely of oneself to make a difference in the other.
- Giving freely of self - or an act or gesture of caring - whether cooking a meal or performing a task.
- Giving freely of time and resources for the betterment of others less fortunate than me.
- Giving freely with a full heart with no expectations and receiving joy from the act of giving.
- It is a guiding principle of my life.
- It means giving a kind word and smile, giving monetary help to someone in need, listening to others' troubles, just spending time with someone who is lonely, just being there for others.
- It means giving yourself to the world that Hashem has created.
- Living each day/each moment thinking about what I can give instead of focusing on what I can get.
- Offering of the self - physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually, without looking for reward.
- Reaching deep within in order to reach out to others. Creating and taking advantage of opportunities to give to others in meaningful and productive ways.
- Seeing the needs of others, caring for others in a way that opens my heart and my pocketbook, wanting to share, wanting to feel connected.
- Selfless giving with no expectations.
- Sharing and giving freely, of resources and emotions (and myself).
- The difference between an open hearted and a close hearted day.
- To be able to give without thought for what you will receive, knowing that to give generously will leave you with an incredible sense of satisfaction and personal, intrinsic reward.
- To give with love until the person says, enough they can do or make it on their own.
- Being generous to my wife and kids and all the people in my life, in word and deed.