The Other Way of Giving By Menachem Kravetz (’20)


In honor of Mother’s Day, many children give their mother a present in order to show their appreciation to her and thank her for all that she does for them each and every day. In giving these presents, children are able to see their mothers’ faces light up because of the happiness that she gets in receiving these presents. But while giving gifts face-to-face is one way to make someone else’s day, there is another way to give a gift.

In Parashat Emor, Hashem instructs the owners of fields, “UVeKutzrechem Et Ketzir Artzechem Lo Techaleh Pe’at Sadecha BeKutzrecha VeLeket Ketzirecha Lo Telakei Le’Ani VeLageir Ta’azov Otam Ani Hashem Elokeichem,” “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I the LORD am your God” (VaYikra 23:22). It seems peculiar that Hashem would tell the farmers to leave uncollected crops for the poor and the stranger. Why doesn’t Hashem tell the farmers to harvest the crops (seeing as they own the proper farming equipment) and then give them away?

The Sforno suggests that the way to ensure that one will have financial success is through giving. The only way that one can guarantee financial success in from his crops is through giving charity to the deserving.

Another answer centers on the idea that the Torah is not merely concerned with the financial welfare of a poor person, but also his or her self-esteem. When someone needs to take something from someone else, it can be quite embarrassing for them to come and admit that they rely on someone else for basic needs, as they are not able to get them by themselves. For this reason, Hashem tells the farmers to simply leave their crops instead of giving, so that the poor people can come take their necessities in a private, non-embarrassing way.

Today, most people are not farmers; how can we fulfill this goal of giving necessities in a private way?

One way is by giving anonymous presents to those who need. In doing so, one is able to show that he does not want anything in return, and is giving this gift only for the sake of helping another person; meanwhile, the recipient does not have to meet the donor. Giving presents is just a way to make the receiver happy. The giver should not give gifts to others in order to get a reward or seem like someone special, but in order to make the other person’s day and ensure their happiness and well-being.

As Lag Ba’Omer approaches, this lesson should be taken to heart. Rabi Akiva’s students were not helpful to one another, and they cared only about themselves and the rewards they got. They only cared about their own Torah study, and disregarded Ve’Ahavta LeRei’acha Kamocha. After the tragedies that happened to these students, it is important to act in a way to avoid this happening again. One should not seek out reward for giving gifts, but should sit in the backseat and let people benefit from anonymous acts. The greatest joy one can get is knowing that he helped someone too embarrassed to say that they need it. It is very important to show love for those who need it, even if they do not know that the love is coming from you.

A Gathering of Heroes By Mr. Strassman

Lifnei Iveir: Applications and Calculations By Eitan Mermelstein (’21)