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"One for me, two for me..." - Behar-Bechukotai

Thursday, 14 May, 2020 - 5:25 am

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Once, a rabbi went to a wealthy Jew to ask him for a donation for the city’s poor people. The wealthy man started giving excuses, that he had already donated to this organization and that organization… The rabbi responded that thanks to this answer, he finally understood a big question he had about the laws of the Maaser.

Maaser, one of the Mitsvot (commandments) discussed in the weekly Torah portion Behar-Bechukotai, means that we should give 10% of our earnings to charity. This applies to harvest in the land of Israel, to newborn kosher animals (at the time of the Temple) and of course – to our salary. The Torah promises that G-d blesses whoever keeps Maaser and that at the end, his earnings will increase.

There is an interesting law about the calculation of the Maaser for the animals. The cattleman takes all the animals that were born during the specific year and puts them in a corral, while their mothers are outside. The animals want to join their mothers, but the gate is narrow and only one animal can pass at a time. The cattleman stands by the gate and counts the animals that go out. When he reaches the number ten, he puts on it some red color, says “this is for G-d” and starts again counting from the beginning.

The rabbi had a question: why should there be such a complicated procedure? It would be much easier to count all the animals and make the calculation of the 10%.

But with the answer of the wealthy man, the rabbi finally understood the procedure of the Maaser. If the cattleman would see that he needs to give e.g. 10 animals out of the 100 that were born that year, it may have seemed a lot to him. Why should he give away so many? That is why there is all this procedure, so that the cattleman sees and realizes that: “one for me, two for me, three for me… nine for me and the tenth for G-d”. This way, it is easier for him to give, since he comprehends better the blessings that G-d gave him.

A lot of times, when we are called to give from our money or our time, we think like the wealthy man. I have already given money, I have already dedicated time… Let us think more proportionally. Let us realize how much money and time we were blessed with, and how much of it we use for ourselves and how much of it we dedicate for others and for G-d.

Shabbat Shalom!

Hanna

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