The Joy of Giving

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The Joy of Giving

Karen Berg
June 13, 2020
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It’s funny how we think that getting what we want in life will make us happy. Maybe we want to find our soul mate, or make a million dollars, but I’ll tell you a secret: I know people who have found their soul mate, and I know people with a million dollars – and they are some of the most unhappy people I know! If anything, it seems they have more problems now than ever. Now, why do you think that is? 

It’s not about what we get in life. It’s about what we do with our blessings. It’s how we give back to the world that shapes our life, defines us as humans, and builds joy from within.  

Now I know what you’re thinking. That’s nice, Karen. But I could sure use a million dollars right about now, and I could sure use a partner! If I had those blessings, I would give so much! I would do so much good with them! 

Well to that end, I have to ask: Would you, really?  

There’s a parable about a man who was once lost at sea. He kept searching and searching for shore, but with land nowhere in sight he becomes afraid. In his fear, he calls out to the Creator, “God, if you help me to find my way back home, I’ll devote my entire life to study. I’ll become a more spiritual person. I’ll share my blessings with others. I’ll give money to the poor, and I’ll help feed the hungry!” 

Just then, in the distance, he spots land ahead. Tears of joy come to his eyes, and he calls out to the Creator, “Oh, never mind! I just found the land for myself!” 

It’s a funny story, right? But you know, the truth is… we are all a little like that. We believe that when we see the miracles, we will become better. We believe once we ‘have,’ then we will give. We think if we had a million dollars, oh the wonderful ways in which we would share! But the real question is: What are we doing with the blessings we have right now? If we have a roof over our heads, do we invite people into our home? If we have a vehicle, do we offer to give others a ride to work or to the airport when they need it? If we have some free time, do we spend it feeding the homeless, helping the needy, or volunteering within our own community? 

To be clear, I’m not speaking from a strictly moral point of view here, either. We all know it’s nice to share. What we don’t all know is that sharing makes us happier! ‘Getting’ something might bring us temporary pleasure, but it is in ‘giving’ that we taste of the Light and experience lasting fulfillment. 

You know, we don’t have to look very far into this week’s portion to find out what it’s all about. The story begins with the words: And Korach took… Well, that was his problem! That was the start his downfall. That is what led him away from the Light and towards his evil inclination. 

We’ve got it backwards. We think ‘taking’ will make us happy, but it is in giving that we experience a true fulfillment of the soul. Try it this week and see what happens. In the moments you most desire to take as ‘Korach took,’ pause and find a way to give instead. Find a way to share beyond your comfort zone even. See if you don’t feel more fulfillment as a result. I bet you will!