The request comes by phone or through the mail. Yet another worthy cause is making its appeal: “We need your help now!” you are told. Each request comes from an organization that is making a real contribution, but the calls and letters are endless. Unable to take the time to examine the merits of each request, you feel hassled and overwhelmed, so it is easy to avoid the requests. However, you could choose to see this same scenario in a new way. What if you recognized that the calls and letters are coming your way because you have been generous enough to give before? What if you took pleasure in knowing that you are considered to be someone who cares?


Help me to realize that the people who call or write me are doing a mitzvah. They are doing the work of the gabba’ei tzedakah, the traditional tzedakah collectors, and I am privileged to honor them for their commitment. Help me to be patient with them and supportive of their efforts, even if I do not choose to make a contribution. Grant me the wisdom to know which causes I should be supporting this year and when I should be especially generous.


Hold a family meeting so you can decide which causes are important to some or all of you and to which you will contribute. Let each member of the family have some say in making these decisions. Keeping in mind how difficult it can be to find presents each year for family members, friends, and teachers, consider giving the present of a donation (or a membership) in someone’s honor, matching up the cause with the recipient who will be touched by your gesture, made in his or her name.


(As you sit down together to make your decisions) Blessed is the One who commands us to repair the world.


The verse “They who provide charity for the many are like stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3) refers to collectors for charity. (Babylonian Talmud: Baba Batra 8b)

Rabbi Eleazar said: One who leads others to do good is greater than one who oneself does good, for it is said, “One who causes the giving of charity confers peace” (Isaiah 32:17). (Babylonian Talmud: Baba Batra 9a)

Generosity does not begin with a lot of cash, but with that wealth of spirit that shows others we care. We esteem those who give with nedivut (generosity), as did the biblical poet who said, “He who gives freely to the poor, his beneficence lasts and lasts, and his strength is exalted in honor” (Psalms 112:9). (Eugene Borowitz and Frances Weinman Schwartz, The Jewish Moral Virtues)

Rabbi Irwin Kula, editor, Vanessa L. Ochs, editor in The Book of Jewish Sacred Practices