The act of giving seems to me, at times, to be one of the least intuitively human things we do.
Anybody who has been around 3-5 year old people knows this. “Give him a turn”, “Give her the toy”, “Give them each a lollypop”… these and many more phrases do NOT come naturally.
It is the act of pushing away from us something that we feel, at a primal level, we probably need. Even if I have 5 lollypops, giving away 4 of them can appear to be an act of sheer madness.
As we get older, the act of giving gains variations, but it often feels like it gets no easier.
“Could you give me a moment of your time?”
“Please give the teacher your attention.”
“You have to give it 150%”
“Do you give yourself to this woman, to be her lawfully wedded husband?”
There’s one category of giving, though, that is both easier and harder.
“Give me a hug”
Giving affection, and the tokens of that affection (hugs, kisses, etc) are a give-and-get proposition. So they should be easier for us to accept. As I give away, so too do I get back in equal measure.
At the heart of the matter, I think, is that we are concerned about what others will do with the things we give them. Will they be generous with our gift? Will they even appreciate it? Will they run off and keep it all for themselves? Will they treat it as if it was unimportant?
Like everything, Judaism gives us the opportunity to be thoughtful about how and when and what we give. It gives us the opportunity to elevate the act of giving beyond the internal struggle about whether or not I think I can live without 4 out of 5 lollypops, and into the realm of a blessed act.
It’s amazing to think that, in just a couple of days, we will stand before our Creator and ask – beg, really – to be given another year. We have a chance here and now to commit to the ways we will use that gift so that The Giver will be assured it was wisely given.