Spritiual Ossification

hardened-heart Apparently when it comes to giving tzedaka (charity), there is no neutral ground.  One might think that while giving tzedaka requires proactive generosity of the heart, refraining from giving merely lacks that added generosity.  The Torah, however, when discussing the mitzvah of tzedaka says that “thou shalt not harden thy heart and shut thy hand from thy needy brother” (Devarim 15:7).  “Shutting of the hand” seems not to result passively from a mere lack of generosity.  It results from a step in the negative direction, a “hardening of the heart.”  This would suggest that the Torah’s view of the human psyche assumes that our neutral state is one of giving and generosity of heart – unless it has been damaged by hardening of attitude and outlook.  Why would that be?

hardened arteriesPerhaps this is further evidence that the Torah sees sin and negativity as deviations from our essential nature which is good, generous, and positive.  If we don’t harden our hearts, we will naturally be generous and give.  If left pure and uncorrupted, we would make good choices and do good things.  According to this philosophy, on some level growth isn’t about building and creating new skills, habits, and paradigms, but rather about tearing down and eliminating bad ones.  When we will successfully break out of the mire of bad and petty character, an innate light of goodness will shine forth on its own.

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