This week, our parasha, Re’eh, gives us the Tochacha (admonition): “See, I present before you today a blessing and a curse. The blessing: That you listen to the commandments of Hashem, your God, that I command you today. And the curse: If you do not listen to the commandments of Hashem, your God, and you stray from the path that I command you today, to follow the gods of others, that you did not know.”
God then describes many mitzvot that the Children of Israel are to perform when they reach the Land that He has promised: To destroy the places of idol worship in Israel, to worship only at the places where God shall choose for the Tabernacle (and later the Temple) and bring the offerings there, to not eat the blood of animals (for it is the animal’s soul), to avoid the words of false prophets, to ignore people who encourage idol worship and to punish them, to eat only kosher animals, to give tithes for the support of the Levites and converts (neither of whom received a portion of land) and widows and orphans.
God then turns his attention to the poor. He commands, “If there shall be a destitute person among you, of one of your brothers in any of your cities, in your land that Hashem, your God gives you, you shall not harden your heart nor shall you close your hand against your destitute brother.” Note how the mitzvah of taking care of your brother is related to the Land that was given to us by Hashem. Each is tied to the other. We inherit the Land and therefore we are responsible to use it to care for the needy.
You know that the Hebrew word we usually use for “charity” is tzedakah, which really means “justice”. So God, in his love for the Children of Israel, has given us a good Land. It is fair – or just – that we use his gift not only for our own benefit, but for that of others who need help. In this way we pass along the gift God has given us.
We can observe this mitzvah every day, by sharing what we have with others who are in need. This is not limited to money. If our family has extra food or clothing or toys, we can share those. We all have extra time, and perhaps special talents, we can donate to assist others in their needs.
This Shabbat, think about some things you have that you can share with others next week.