pirkei avot 3:7 - Giving from Gratitude

This post is dedicated in memory of Etya Sarah bat Yitzchak ha-Levi. May it be an aliyah        for her neshama.
Elisheva Maline

Rabbi Elazar of Bartosa would say, "Give Him [G-d] from that which is His, since you and whatever is yours is already His. This is like King David's saying, 'For everything comes from You [G-d] and from Your own hand we give it back to You' (Chronicles I 26:14).

Essentially, Rabbi Elazar was telling people not to shrink nor even to hesitate from giving Hashem (G-d) that which is already His, namely our inborn talents and capabilities, our possessions and our very beings. This mindset, "Give Him [G-d] from that which is His, since you and whatever is yours is already His" gives us the opportunity to take nothing for granted. Are we foolish enough to claim ownership over our own bodies, let alone our destinies? That being said, when Hashem returns to reclaim His property, we should have nothing to add besides, "Thank You for the time You gave us."  

Rabbi Meir Ba'al Haneis had two sons of whom he was extremely proud. When they passed away suddenly Rabi Meir's wife, Beruriah, hid the fact. Afterward, she approached her husband, "If someone loans you a great treasure, would you resent him for taking it back?" "Of course not," Rabbi Meir replied. She then led him to the room where their two sons lay. When what had happened dawned on him, Rabbi Meir began to sob. Beruriah confronted him, "Did you not just say that when someone has to give back that which never belonged to him, he shout not harbor ill feeling? Well, Hashem lent us this treasure, our children, and now He has taken it back." Rabbi Meir stopped crying and answered, "Just as we bless Hashem for the good, so to we must bless Him for the bad (for ultimately, everything that happens is for the best)" (Talmus, Brachot 48). 

Rabbeinu Yonah pushed the above point further by adding that when we are giving to others, it isn't us giving; rather, it is G-d. This characteristic was extracted from an incident at the beginning of the Book of Exodus. After Moshe rescued Reuel (Jethro's) daughters from a flock of obnoxious shepherds the girls informed their father, "An Egyptian saved us from the hands of the shepherds" (Exodus 2:19). A commentary on the Torah (or to be more precise, a commentary on the Written Law) points out that since Moshe wasn't Egyptian (nor was he necessarily dressed in Egyptian garb) their reference to Moshe as 'that Egyptian man' seems strange. This commentary points out that had it not been for Moshe's murder of the cruel Egyptian overseer in Egypt he would never have fled Egypt and therefore, he would not have been available at that particular moment to rescue the girls. Therefore, it wasn't Moshe who saved them, it was that random Egyptian man!

The bottom line is that Hashem is the one making it all happen. We breathe, think, move, talk and express thanks to Him. We engage in intelligent conversation, we make decisions based on reasoning, we give. How precious is that last gift, the ability to support the needs of others. May we always be blessed to give from a place of gratitude, a place where we recognize that we lack for nothing because Hashem gives us everything.      

As an aside, since G-d gave us our souls on lease, our only task is to get our neshamot (souls) back to G-d in as pure a place as the day we were born

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