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do i matter?

01/19/2023 09:05:01 AM


Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

How many of us made end-of-the-year donations to favorite charities when we recognized that we had discretionary income that we might use? I wonder if our total annual donations changed with the birth of Giving Tuesday as well as the nonstop daily requests? Do we really make a difference?

I think that all of us assume that our donations do make a difference, which is why we offer them in the first place. Many charities prepare colorful statements apprising us of how they use our donations. Some send gifts or mementos if we donate above a certain sum. I can recall a time when I possessed far more return address labels than I could ever use in my lifetime. But making a donation can be unfulfilling, as it does not provide us with the satisfaction of having made a difference.

It is not likely that you nor I will cause Russia to cease its war on Ukraine, or solve any of the great problems that plague humanity. I’ve written before about singular individuals who have made a difference, and I do believe that each of us has the potential to do the same without being Nobel Prize-worthy. Many of the charities that you donate funds to might have a local or regional branch in your area.  Perhaps you might select one that resonates with you, and call them to ascertain if they need volunteers.  I have had the privilege of receiving a big hug, a hearty handshake, tears of joy and a huge smile from a number of opportunities to help others. While the recipients might be grateful beyond measure, their expressions of gratitude are immense gifts to me that nourish my soul and encourage me to continue. I have also been on the receiving end of many acts of kindness from volunteers, and understand what an impact a volunteer can make.

The most precious commodity in the world is not money, nor gold, diamonds nor cryptocurrency.  It is time.  It cannot be banked, nor recovered once it is lost. Time well spent has a rate of return far beyond measure, and that return is not necessarily immediate. It can continue for a long time. We never seem to have enough of it for the right things. I suggest that its value is beyond measure, and it is the greatest gift we can offer another human being. It has the potential to be the most fulfilling part of our lives when invested wisely. We might not appreciate dispensing meals at a soup kitchen for two hours until we experience the gratitude of the recipients. We might not appreciate delivering meals to the home bound until we experience the gratitude of the recipients. We might not appreciate filling shopping bags with groceries at a food pantry for two hours until we experience the gratitude of the recipients.

While our funds are important and there are so many worthy causes, I think that a donation of time, where you are comfortable, will not only help fellow human beings, but impact you in ways unanticipated.  It will not only elevate your spirit emotionally, but also bring you closer to God by acting in a Godly manner. We learn in Pirkei Avot 2:1:

Rabbi (Yehudah HaNasi) taught: Which is the path of virtue a person should follow? That which brings honor to one’s Maker as well as respect from one’s fellow human beings. Be as attentive to a minor mitzvah as to a major one, for you do not know the reward for each of the mitzvot.

Let us invest wisely to maximize our returns.

Wed, February 28 2024 19 Adar I 5784