August 18, 2012 – Parshat Re’eh – “How? By doing tzedakah.”
The countdown towards the New Year continues. Last week week it was 6 shabbats left before the end of the year, and now just 5.
The month of Elul, the last full month before the High Holidays, begins this shabbat. As we turn the pages in our paper or digital calendars, we now see (re’eh) what’s in front of all of us, and we wonder, “How can we prepare for the year to come?”
From this week’s reading, Im reflecting on the verse (paraphrase Deut. 15:7-8), “If there is a needy person among you…don’t harden your heart and shut your hand…rather, you shall surely open your hand…”
We can’t get stuck only looking inward, as we prepare for the New Year. Rather, this week’s reading reminds us of the importance of looking outward in a posture of tzedakah. One commentary suggests that the essence of tzedakah is benefiting those in need with resources, food, or even with good words or words of comfort. How can we prepare for the New Year? By doing tzedakah in any way that we can.
Shabbat shalom and “only 5 to go,”
Rabbi Mark Melamut