Thursday, August 25, 2011

When times are tough...

Times are tough. The markets are a mess. Trust me, trying to raise funds for our new Shul and Jewish Life Centre, I've learned that people are feeling the pinch right now. Logically, this is not a good time to push people for donations.

Logically, that is. But, the Torah takes a different view. This week is when we read G-d's grand promise "Aser te'aser, donate and I will make you wealthy". As the Talmud explains it, Hashem invites you to test Him on this one. Go ahead, make your pledge and then hold Him to his commitment to reimburse.
Fair enough, Tzedokah is a wonderful thing and Hashem appreciates it. You can't help but wonder, though, why G-d didn't just supply every person (and organisation) with everything that they need and we could have avoided the uncomfortable process of raising funds. Why did G-d create haves and have-nots? Surely He has the resources to dole out enough of everything to everyone?
You'll need a crash course in Jewish mysticism to get a handle on this one. Before there was a world, there was only G-d. That makes sense, because G-d is infinite. What actually makes no sense is how we got here. Surely, if G-d is everything and everywhere, that would leave no room for us.
G-d, say the Kabbalists, first created a "vacuum" (a reality where he is completely invisible). Then, He began to radiate a focused laser-beam of energy into that "empty" space, which continually gives life to all Existence. The template of Creation is that there are voids and there are those who fill them. Should you help someone in need, you become G-dlike; filling the hole in their lives.
Conventional thinking recommends a lock-down of your assets when times are tough. Since you don't know what tomorrow brings, you need to hold tightly on to what you have. Difficult times are not the season of giving.
Torah says, when times are tough, fill a void. By giving to a worthy cause, you create a vacuum in your own finances- which invites G-d to do what He has designed His world for- to it. You really cannot ask for a greater blessing than G-d Himself filling in what you're lacking. He tends to be unusually generous.

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