The Spirituality of Giving: Kicking Giving Up a Notch

Over the past ten years, our community’s focus on continuity has led to a growing interest in Jewish spirituality. This has not been limited to a desire for more intensity and passion in synagogue services, but a quest for the transcendent in all areas of life. Could there be more to giving and community involvement than the emergence of our “inner mentsch”?

Trees Are Us

In the first mishnah of tractate Rosh HaShanah, the School of Hillel asserts that the “New Year” for trees is on the
15 th day of the month of Shvat. The significance of this date is to determine when the year begins for assessing
the tithes and other agricultural obligations for fruit trees. Basing themselves upon the famous Biblical passage
that “man is like the tree of the field” (Deuteronomy 20:19), Chassidic masters suggest that this day also has a Rosh HaShanah significance for humans as well.

Leviticus 17:11

Atonement

One of the cornerstones of Christian theology is that the only way to achieve atonement for sins is through the offering of a sacrifice whose blood is shed in our place. The Greek Testament makes this very clear in Hebrews 9:22 “…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Is this idea consistent with the teachings of the Tanach, or do the Jewish and Christian bibles diverge on this issue?