Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

18 Adar 5764 - March 11, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

The Gifts of Giving and Receiving
by Mikimi Steinberg

Did you ever look at children's faces when they open a gift? The sheer anticipation and excitement and curiosity as they remove the wrapping paper?

I think of how I often want gifts. Gifts make us feel special and wanted and important -- even more so when the gift is wrapped. And yet, I know that as much as I want gifts, and wish that I received more (I'm human and have attributes of jealousy and desire that I need to curb, also the need to be appreciated and remembered), when I DO receive a gift, I open it with a sense of apprehension and trepidation in fear of what if I don't like what the person has given me? I also know that all too often, I have disliked what I have been given. One would do best to just give me chocolate or credit to buy something at a book store.

Yet I enjoy giving gifts to friends. Gifts are a symbolic way of showing recognition for the kindnesses shown to me. My gifts are often practical and thought out, rarely expensive but usually well appreciated.

However, I have to learn also how to receive gifts from my friends. Gifts are not only on birthdays or holidays. Sometimes a gift is given during an illness or in celebration of a job well done. Not all gifts are tangible. Some are the emotional gift of friendship and acceptance, of reaching out. In life we have to learn to accept all types and to acknowledge the act of giving by receiving graciously.

Life is a give-and-take situation on an almost daily basis. In order to live life fully, one has to have a sense of emotional balance and timing in giving and taking. There is always a compromise to be made in everything we do so as not overdo our impulsive giving.

By nature, some people are givers and some are takers. The givers are people who devote themselves to others in helping and giving of themselves in time, advice or possessions. The takers are the people who at times seem to drain you of your vitality by squeezing your emotional stamina dry until you feel empty and need time out to recharge. But givers invariably do recharge...

Then there are the people who know how to give but not how to take. There has to be a balance, otherwise feelings of frustration arise at the lack of reciprocity. One cannot only give. One has to know how to also take, to accept with love and gratitude that something is given, and the gesture that motivates the act.

People who only take are missing out on the inner joy that is attained through giving of themselves. And everyone has something to give, if only a listening ear... Similarly, people who always give to others without accepting what others give, or try to give, to them, are missing out on receiving love for themselves. Actually, letting others give to you is also a form of giving!

The act of taking, for a giver, is a form of completion in their emotional being. When you allow yourself to take from others, you are, in essence, giving to yourself and balancing the scales. Indeed, the way in which we accept gifts, even someone's smile, is an art in itself, because one must make the effort to give the giver that sense of gratification which comes upon giving.

May we all show our proper gratitude to all givers, including, first and foremost, the ultimate Giver -- of life and limb and of everything we possibly have and need.

[Perhaps the preponderance of giving on Purim (often) ad absurdum can give us a glimpse into the infinite giving and giving and giving of our own Father.]


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