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    Giving a tenth

    Charity boxOne of the basic elements of the High Holydays is tzedakah, giving charity, and one of the basic elements of charity is giving a tithe.

    Rav Moshe Feinstein rules (Ig’rot Moshe, Even HaEzer 26:4) that just as one should give a tenth of their income to charity, so one should give one tenth of their time to the welfare of others.

    Maybe this could take the form of volunteering in an organisation. There are countless tasks that cry out to be filled – organisations that need volunteers to help with odd jobs for the elderly, others that need voluntary assistance with nursing skills, others that would appreciate people helping children with their reading… the list is endless.

    Then there are the Shabbat and festival mitzvot – hospitality for singles or widowed people, doing challah baking or shopping, phoning lonely people to see how they are…

    Rosh HaShanah is the best time to decide on your mitzvah and to get started.

    Yes, you are a busy person and can’t spare the time – but you must. Yes, you are a poor person and need every minute to scratch a living for yourself – but no-one is so poor that they can’t give.

    I know people who went to their graves feeling unloved and unwanted because their family never gave them any time. The worst aspect of that problem is relatives who do nothing for you whilst you are alive, but can’t wait to get their hands on their yerushah

    There is a special mitzvah for retired people who have plenty of time and feel a bit bored and useless; for them, doing volunteer work for the community would bring a new sparkle to their lives.

    If you live by Rav Moshe’s principle and you give a tenth of your time to other people, why not also give a tenth to the Person in whose presence you live, by way of doing something to enhance your own learning and spirituality?

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