with all your resources

Written by  rabbi russ resnik

art-shemaTravel always provides lots of opportunities for practicing the middot—standing in a TSA security line is ideal for developing patience; staying strapped into a narrow seat on a crowded plane is perfect for equanimity; and there are boundless opportunities for humility. On my latest trip I had a chance to learn about the middah of generosity.

Now this year, I’m tying my Mussar practice into the Shema, and I remember that the Sages interpret, “You shall love the Lord with all your might” as “with all your money” (Berakhot 9:5). The word in Hebrew is me’odekha, an unusual form of the common word me’od, which means “very” or “exceedingly.” But in this context the term means resources, strength, or substance, suggesting that if we love Hashem wholeheartedly, we’ll express that love with all we’ve got, including our finances. But what exactly does this look like?

Well, a couple of weeks ago I wrote about an early morning mussar experience with a cab driver, and last week I had another one.

I took a taxi to the airport for a 6:00am flight. The cabbie was an intelligent guy who knew how to engage in a conversation. As we were talking, I mentioned that I’d lived in New Mexico since 1970, and when he asked what brought me here, I decided to include the Yeshua part of my story. A couple of weeks ago we were learning about zerizut or enthusiasm, and I wrote about speaking of the Kingdom of God with a cab driver and the enthusiasm that stirred up. Now I had another chance to practice mussar at 4:30 in the morning. So I told the cabbie about our life-changing encounter with Messiah Yeshua, and finished my story just we pulled up to the curbside check-in. The fare was $18.00 plus change. I pulled a twenty out of my wallet, and looked for some singles to add to the tip and only found one. So I gave the driver $21.00, but while he was filling out the receipt, I was wondering if that was enough, especially because I’d just put in a good word for Yeshua. When the guy handed me the receipt, he’d written down $25.00 as the total—which I took as Hashem’s answer to my question, “Is this a big enough tip?” So I had him make change for a $10 bill and I gave him five more dollars—an opportunity to put some money where my mouth had just been. That’s one way to express love for Hashem through my resources.

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