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    Giving back to God – Re’eh

    The final verse of the sidra is about bringing an offering to God on the festivals: “Every person shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you” (Deut. 16:17).

    What about the poor person?

    The law is that rich or poor, one must and can still give. The rich must not give too little nor the poor too much, but no-one is exempt from giving.

    Once upon a time, before decimal currency came in, Anglo-Jewry used to call certain people guinea pigs because no matter how wealthy they were they always gave a guinea to every appeal.

    Yiddish-speakers understood this epithet in blunter fashion: a millionaire who gave a mere guinea, they said, was a real chazzer.

    There are no guineas any more, but there are still people who are rather too mean – that is, unless a skilled fundraiser can coax something extra out of them.

    But over and above giving in material terms, there is a message in the sidra that needs to be taken seriously. We may not all be too greatly blessed with possessions, but we all have time and talents and we can all give some of these back to the Almighty.

    Volunteering probably used to be easier because the pace and pressure of living were less demanding. But we can all organise our time and do more for the community, and this applies especially to retired people. Statistically, people used to work all their lives to have something to retire on, they would retire at 65, and within three years they would be dead.

    Today, more people are living longer, and 25 per cent of their lives is spent in retirement, generally in quite good health. They still have talents with which God has endowed them, they have time, and now is the precious opportunity to bring Him an offering “according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you”.

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