The Art of Giving
Throughout history, different thinkers offered different views of what they see as the supreme good and value in life. For Sigmund Freud, man is chiefly an erotic being, driven by his libido. For Nietzsche, man is the “power-seeking-animal”, and “the will to power” is the driving force of our actions. For Karl Marx, a human being is “Homo Fabre”, the “producing/manufacturing animal”, and life chiefly revolves around the economic struggle over resources.
The book of Torah which we start reading this Shabbat, the book of Leviticus, offers its own unique vision of that which constitutes the core feature of the human condition. Our parashah states “Adam Ki yakriv”, which means: “A man – should he sacrifice…”
The view professed by the Torah in our parashah is that in order to lead a truly full human existence, one needs to evolve into a state of being a true giver, a person who derives his sense of vitality and self-worth by way of contributing to the common good and enhancing the lives of others.
This view is strengthened by modern studies which affirm that individuals who are communally, familiarly and socially active, enjoy lesser degrees of stress and loneliness, and higher degrees of emotional and mental well-being.
Being a giver and a contributive societal force is not only a dignified virtue, teaches us the Torah this week, it is also a key to living a life of health, well-being, and an enduring sense of satisfaction and inner satiation.