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Two Types of Generosity

The Jewish tradition distinguishes between two types of generosity. The first is the giving that manifests when your heart is moved and your hand rushes to your pocket to give. This generosity is not the result of obligation, guilt, or rational thought, but is caused by the spirit of generosity stirring within you. The second type of giving Jewish spirituality identifies is obligated giving. Giving that is required of us regardless of whether or not our hearts are moved, such as tithing and other giving born from our commitments.

There are two important connections between these two types of giving that I would like to mention here. The first is that our spontaneous generosity should never sacrifice our ability to fulfill our commitments. The second is that we should keep a close eye on the feelings each type of giving generates. Some of the best conversations I have with my children are around feelings. I have told them, over and over again, “Feelings are messengers.” And when something happens in their lives, we are able to talk about what message different feelings might be delivering. Your feelings around generosity are messengers too, and worth exploring.

Now, let’s take a look at today’s generosity habit.

Be generous with your affection. Let your affection flow. It’s easy to hold back affection. Today, let the spontaneity of your affection shine. Smile. And smile generously. You know what I mean. There is the polite smile and there is a look-them-in-the-eyes-and-make-their-day smile. It’s amazing how a generous smile can literally lift people’s spirits. Smiling is one of the simplest ways to express affection… Let your affection flow generously today.

Matthew Kelly

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