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Giving Assignment - I would have much rather given him...

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Elizabeth R. Katzki Giving Assignment This after Sunday afternoon, I encountered a man sitting on the sidewalk downtown while walking with my mother. He was selling elementary wire art, and appeared to be homeless. He was unkempt and asked if I could spare some change to buy some of his wire-art. I would usually say that I did not have any change, and that I was sorry, but this time, I gave two dollars, which was all I had at the time. I thought it would feel great to give someone money, but it felt incredibly empty. I was only giving because I had to, and as I did, unpleasant thoughts crowded my head. All I could think was: “Am I doing the right thing?” “Will he use it on drugs like people say he will?” “Will this even make a difference in his life?” What I feel like I should have been thinking is: “What’s his name?” “What’s his story?” “I wonder what he likes to do for fun.” “Does he have time for fun?” I did not really feel anything except that I was forced to give Tzedakah in a monetary form.
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Unformatted text preview: I would have much rather given him something to eat, or taken him somewhere and sat down and had lunch with him, but that was not the assignment. If I did not have to give Tzedakah, the two dollars that I had would have probably stayed in my wallet until I had to buy food; I spend most of my money on food. Only because of the fact that I was forced, I did not feel generous. I felt like something better could have been done with that two dollars, and I should have had the right to choose what the act of Tzedakah should have been. Reflecting on the experience, I can connect it to texts we have studied in class, such as the text about the overly generous man. I gave the man on the street two dollars, which may not seem like much, but it was 100% of the money that I had that day. I was not in fact doing the right mitzvah. I learned that it is hard to think about the minute laws pertaining to Tzedakah while performing it, because the moment passes so quickly....
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