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How do I become a giving person?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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Giving starts with truly caring about others. When you truly care about another, then automatically you will find yourself giving; both practically and emotionally.

The Tanya1 explains that in order to care about another in a meaningful way, one must first be a spiritual person. For if one's priorities in life are material - gaining material wealth, comforts and honor - then he/she will never be able to truly empathize with another because physically we are all individual beings with independent agendas.

If, however, one's main concerns are spiritual, concentrating on the soul and achieving a closer connection to G-d, then one does not view another as a separate being, for on the spiritual level we are all one. Our souls are all of one source and are, in fact, one.

Giving starts with truly caring about others. When you truly care about another, then automatically you will find yourself giving; both practically and emotionally
That is why Ahavat Yisrael (Loving a fellow Jew) is considered a foundation of the Torah. For one of the main purposes of Torah is to make us more aware and connected to our Neshomo (soul).

On the other hand, it is important to give even if the deed is being done with selfish motivations.

The following inspiring story illustrates this point:

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812) had a disciple who was renowned for his tremendous kindness and legendary hospitality.

Once, this man came to Rabbi Schneur Zalman and cried to him "I feel that I am not giving with truth!"

Rabbi Schneur Zalman responded "But the poor man is becoming truly satiated!"2

Footnotes

  • 1. Ch 32.
  • 2. For a comprehensive understanding of this mitzvah, see the abovementioned Tanya (available at www.kehotonline.com) and I would suggest that you study a beautiful discourse of the Tzemach Tzedek (Rabbi Menachem Mendel, the third Lubavitcher Rebbe) on the subject of Ahavat Yisrael. It is available in English at http://kehotonline.com/scripts/tgij/paper/kehot-item.asp?book=1233 for under $9.

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Mitzvot » Love thy Neighbor
Jewish Identity » Love thy Neighbor

Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Tanya
Foundation text of Chabad chassidism. Authored by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of the Chabad movement, and first published in 1796. Considered to be the "Bible" of Chassidism.
Yisrael
1. Additional name given by G-d to Patriarch Jacob. 2. A Jew who is not a Kohain or Levi (descendant of the Tribe of Levi).
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.