Tithing Your Losses

It is told that there was once a grandson who claimed that his grandfather had been a hidden saint.

In attesting to his grandfather’s virtue, the grandson recounted the honourable work that his grandfather would do, the hours that he committed to prayer and study, and that he would donate ten percent to the poor.

The listeners were not particularly impressed since these are characteristics of any righteous and observant Jew.

The grandson continued saying, “My grandfather would give a tenth of his profits to [charity] and he would give a tenth of his losses as well.”

The listeners were perplexed.

The grandson then recounted a time that his grandfather had once lost an enormous sum of money owing to a professional mistake he made. He calculated a tenth of the loss and gave that money to the poor, “believing that the poor should not suffer from his own mistakes.”

I love this story and there are, as with all such Hasidic Tales, several layers and angles to it.

So often we are inclined to thank and praise God for the abundance in our lives, for the things that go according to plan, for the opportunities and experiences we gain.

But can we also tithe the time and money that we feel we don’t have?

It is a paradox apparent to all who reflect that there is often greater generosity in giving from our poverty than in giving from our abundance.




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