It is often hard to get caught up in the physicality that surrounds us. People tend to think that their hard work will make them rich. But it is not so. My salesman example illustrates this quite well, and while we have to put in the effort, the amount of effort we put in depends on our relationship and trust in a creator who provides for us at every moment, having no reason to give to us, other than to create us to have choice. Without man, there is no choice – their is autonomy. We can choose to become close to the creator, which we are separated from, and a part of, at the same time, or we can choose the opposite.
“[King Dovid said] make the world even, so that all are equally rich or poor. . . . He [G_d] said to him . . . If everyone were rich or poor, who would do acts of giving?” – Midrash Tanchuma, Parsha Mishpatim referring to Tehillim 61:8.
The answer is quite simple. There will always be poor people. Without poor people, there could be no one to give to. Where would the hero’s be? Iyov [Job] chapter 40 and 41 further explain: if we are to complain that there is “evil” in the world, as Iyov did, well, where would you start destroying? If we had the power of G_d, would we do away with evil by leaving nothing but weak creatures like worms that don’t hurt anything? What sort of creation to rule over is that? Where is the glory?
“The Holy One, Blessed Is He, tests everyone. The wealthy, if they are giving to the poor, they will enjoy their possessions [in this world]. And as for the charity they do, the principal remains in the World to Come.” – Midrash Tanchuma, Parshas Mishpatim
Think only the poor or tested by having to find food to live for the next day? On the contrary, everyone is tested. Life is a test. How will we do? The poor are tested with thanking G_d and doing mitzvos even though they are lacking in physical needs (sometimes) and must cry out to G_d to get what is needed. The rich are tested with their wealth. Will a rich person be like a snake who has every physical desire met, and never needs to look up to G_d and see G_d, or will a rich person recognize that it all comes from the creator, and just as the creator gives to him, he must give to others. If he does, he’ll be assured of a reward. It all works out, not only in this world, but the next.
“One may not test G_d [by demanding a reward for a mitzvah], other than in the matter of tzedakah. . . . give a tenth [of your income to tzedakah] so that you will become wealthy” – Talmud Bavli, Mesechta Taanis 9a
“Bring all of the tithes to the storage house, and test Me, please, with this: See if I do not open up the windows of the heavens and pour out upon you endless blessings!” – Malachi 3:10
Although it is normally prohibited to test G_d, the Tur (Yoreh Deah 247) says it is permitted to test G_d to see if Hashem will reward him for it. It’s just that simple.
I have often run across people who complain about money. It happens in work all the time. If they’re a religious person and I think they might hear me, I ask them, “Do you give enough tzedekah?” Not once have a run into a person complaining about money who gives enough tzedekah. Some will say, “My rabbi says really it doesn’t apply today . . . I don’t have to give 10% . . .” or “Yeah, I guess, but I really need the money I have” or some other variant. Of the about 12 or so people I have quoted Malacha 3:10 to, none have actually taken me up on it and decided they’d start giving away 10% or more of their money to tzedekah. It’s true, there are those who say all sorts of things about whether one must, should, or could choose to give this money tzedekah, but those who say anything other than “go and do it” are selling others short. Go and do it!
The only catch is that this proof of G_d’s existence only works if you’re willing to take the steps towards a relationship with your creator:
If you will give $100,000 to charity, I promise you will be a millionaire. And what if you tell me you don’t have $100,000 to give? So I’ll tell you to go out and get other people to give, too!” – Bernard Hochstein, multi-millionare donor.
Bernard Hochstein has his name on a lot of yeshivas. There’s a great write-up of him over here: http://www.aish.com/jw/s/48939877.html . Looking for a place to see G_d’s hand in your every day activities – here it is. If you’re the first one who heard this from me that actually follows up by making a consistent and concerted effort to give your money to tzedekah, I’d love to hear from you.