Rabbi Sacks on a Tzedakah Tale
JInsider (March 2010)
To me, one of the great stories about Tzedakah – very insightful – concerns one of the most famous British Jews of the Victorian age, Sir Moses Montefiore. Sir Moses Montefiore was a leader of the Jewish community, President of the Board of Deputies for half a very long lifetime, and also very well known in the non-Jewish world, a close personal friend of Queen Victoria, sheriff of the city of London, and a philanthropist on a major scale.
Somebody once asked Sir Moses Montefiore, “Sir Moses, what are you worth?” Remember, this is back in the 1850s. Sir Moses thought for a while and mentioned a sum, a number of hundreds of thousands of pounds. And the person said, “Come on Sir Moses, I know you’re worth millions. Why did you mention 200,000 pounds?” And Sir Moses replied, “You didn’t ask me what I own. You asked me what I’m worth. And therefore I told you the sum I have so far this year given to Tzedakah” because he said, “We are worth what we are willing to share with others.”
And that to me is a very great truth. The things that really make life worthwhile are the things we share to others. What we give, so much more than what we get.