You’re checking out at the grocery store and the clerk asks if you’d like to donate a dollar to a children’s charity. A dollar seems easy enough to give, especially when it is tagged onto your total grocery bill. So, you say yes and feel good for a moment. You’ll never know whom that dollar will go on to help, but you trust that it will be put to good use. By the time you’ve left the building, you’ve forgotten all about it.
We all know how important it is to give. When the opportunity presents itself, most of us will happily give. Charitable giving is an important precept of Kabbalah. But how we give is just as important. The Kabbalah Centre teaches that we should find a way to give every day. Seem like a lot? There are many ways to give, and sharing our hearts is just as important as giving money to charities. “When we give our money or our time or even our emotional support, we draw closer to the Creator,” says Michael Berg. “When we share what we have with others, we move toward oneness with God.” Here are a few ideas to help you make a spiritual habit of giving.
Add it to Your Calendar
It would be hard to let charitable giving slip your mind during November and December. Charities often have a large influx of canned goods, toys, and clothing during the holidays when collection bins are around every turn. Charities scrambling to provide for the populations they serve due to the lack of donations. Continuous donations throughout the year can be a challenge unless we plan ahead. To keep giving all year long, consider making a donation every Friday before Shabbat or every two weeks on payday.
Always Carry Change
Opportunities to give pop up unexpectedly every day. Be prepared by making a point to carry change with you wherever you go. Leave a tip with the valet who parks your car or the barista who makes your coffee. Hand a homeless person you encounter a few bills. Or splurge when you stumble across a child’s lemonade stand and buy two glasses!
Even when our finances are tight, we can always set aside a small amount for others. Kabbalists emphasize the value in giving beyond our comfort level. When we share, we experience what it feels like to have abundance. And in turn, we bring abundance into the lives of others.
Give More Than Money
Many assume that charitable giving is all about sharing monetarily. That simply isn’t so. There are many ways we can give that do not stem from our bank accounts. Sharing our time and resources can be just as valuable. When a friend announces they are moving across town, offer to help pack, donate boxes and packing tape, or coordinate a caravan to make the process easier. Introduce a job-seeking friend to connections you know in their industry. Offer to babysit for a friend who is overwhelmed at home. Also, consider giving before it is asked of you; anticipate the needs of others and seek out worthy organizations to support before your calendar reminds you that it is time to make a donation.
Michael Berg reminds us, “The great kabbalists of Safed made it a practice to see the innocent and beautiful child hidden within every person, regardless of the condition to which they might have fallen—and a child needs love and kindness and encouragement much more than money.”
Charity and giving in any form acts as a tool reminding us to resist our Desire to Receive for the Self Alone. It helps us be more proactive in our behavior, which connects us to the Light, and in turn helps us transform. Remember, deeper spiritual work begins when we share with others selflessly. “Yet, long before we do anything or give anything, whether money or love or wise counsel,” says Michael Berg, “our action is defined by the character of the desire that underlies it—and Kabbalah teaches that true sharing is defined by our desire for spiritual transformation.”
Despite how you choose to share resources with others, give cheerfully, knowing you are helping to decrease chaos and darkness in the world and create more Light for all.