Each morning a father enters our morning minyan with his two daughters. Before he drops them off at our school, he and his daughters put some money in the tzedakah box. One morning another worshiper, Norm Pell, approached me and reminded me of a beautiful midrash. When the women and men of Israel gave tzedakah, what did their children do? They watched, and learned what it is to help those in need.
In turn I was reminded of something that happened when I was a child. My father, for the first time in his life, was audited. When he asked why, he was told that his taxes were flagged for excessive charitable contributions — the I.R.S. wanted to verify that he really gave the money away! I never forgot the example he and my mother were setting for their children.
Our money is on loan. Sooner or later it will have to be given up — the shrouds in which we are buried have no pockets. To be charitable is not only to invigorate a community, to help others, to burnish one’s own souls; it is to teach children an invaluable lesson.
May our tzedakah boxes always ring with the coins of children.
Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow his teachings at www.facebook.com/RabbiWolpe.
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