“My son was volunteering at a homeless shelter. In walked one of his high school classmates. I’m proud that he ran into the kitchen and helped there so his classmate would not see him.”
A friend told me that story, right here in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the most wealthy areas in the world. Everywhere we see earth shaking companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple. The downside of this wealth is astronomically high real estate prices. But that alone does not account for the high level of homelessness. People all over the country are struggling with financial and food insecurity, even as some of us become more financially secure.
While Thanksgiving is a holiday that is rightly associated with being grateful, Gratitude is not enough for those who practice Mussar. Gratitude bring confidence and peace of mind. When we recognize the richness of what we have, we have an opportunity to See those with less, and to fully recognize their humanity. It would be a shame if we kept the abundance we are feeling for ourselves.
Rabbi Ira Stone defines Mussar as learning to bear the burden of the other. We don’t do this spiritual practice for ourselves, but to help us show up for other people. Judaism teaches that everyone should give charity (Tzedakah), even those who receive Tzedakah. If giving would endanger one’s life, then we are asked to give words of comfort.
For whatever reason, I don’t volunteer in shelters or soup kitchens, although I always contribute to the food drive. I’m looking for ideas on how else I can be Generous. I’d love to hear from you. What do you do to be Generous?
You might also like my post from last year Celebrate Thanksgiving Like A Mensch. Or if you’d like to rekindle your Gratitude to become more open to Generosity, try the 15 Minute Gratitude Challenge.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash