"The first of Nissan is the New Year for festivals" (Rosh Hashanah 2a). There is no holiday that begins on the first of Nissan. Rather, the Gemara explains, the first of Nissan is the month in which the first of the holidays (Pesach) occurs. While we observe the technical details of Pesach for seven (or eight) days, the holiday of Pesach fills an entire month. This celebration is even explicit in the Torah itself: "The month that you left Egypt" (Shemot 23:15); "Guard the month of the spring and make Pesach" (Devarim 16:1).
Jewish law is most strict when it comes to accepting charity. "Make your Shabbat like a weekday"--eating less quantitatively and qualitatively--"and do not have need for others [for support]"(Pesachim 113a). The argument that some jobs are too demeaning is addressed by the Talmudic ruling, "Skin carcasses in the marketplace and receive wages, and do not say 'I am a kohen, I am too important a person [for this]!'" (ibid).
Poverty is a terrible curse, one that has been the unfortunate lot of many Jews over the years. While we are blessed to live in the wealthiest generation in all of Jewish history, having enough money is a concern of many Jews around the world. Whether this is due to the almost unbearable burden of day school tuition, to the lack of skills for gainful employment, or to a host of other factors, for many, it is the prayer for sustenance with which it is easiest to identify.
This week's d'var Torah is dedicated in honour of the upcoming wedding of Galit Sone and Adam Samuel. May they share much happiness and build a bayit ne'eman b'yisroel. Mazal-tov to the extended family. Beginning with the Aseret haDibrot, we often tend to classify mitzvoth as being either between man and G-d, or between man and man. While the interpersonal mitzvoth are also an expression of the Divine will, the distinction is a most relevant one, reflected in our attitude towards these separate (but overlapping) spheres.
As summer approaches, day school parents will soon be getting notifications regarding tuition fees for next year. Undoubtedly, fees will—as they do each and every year—rise at two to three times the rate of inflation. This is to be expected as cost-cutting measures that may be employed in other industries can have little impact in a service industry such as education. Unless one wants to replace teachers in the classroom with some form of online learning, cost-cutting measures are just hard to come by.
Bill Gates and Warren Buffet recently announced the launch of the “Giving Pledge” campaign, asking that all billionaires in America donate at least 50% of their wealth to charity—and to publicly outline their intentions with a written letter—during their lifetimes or upon their deaths. On June 16th, four families took up the challenge, publicly announcing their intent to do exactly that. Eli Broad, pledging to give away 75 percent of his wealth, noted that "We agree with Andrew Carnegie's wisdom that 'the man who dies rich, dies disgraced’”.