Open! Open Your Hand

August 26, 2022

There is a story of a generous elder who always found a way to help others through difficult times.

One cold late night, after everyone had settled to sleep, there was a knock on the elder’s door.

The elder’s son rose from his bed to answer the door. “Who is it?” asked the child.

Immediately, the elder jumped from his bed and ran to the door, yelling, “On a cold late night, if someone is desperate enough to need to come to our door, don’t waste time asking who it is! Open the door! Open the door!”

Any great literary scholar will explain that redundancy is either poor grammar or an intentional attempt to overstate a point. In this week’s Torah portion Re’eh, we read of a seemingly odd redundant phrase, patoah tiftah, in Deuteronomy 15:11. Rarely is this phrase translated literally as “open, open” rather it is traditionally translated in the emphasized singular, “surely open…”

“… your hand to your [sibling], to the poor, and to the needy in your land.”

Alone this phrase is powerful and has dictated generations of philanthropy and generous contributions to those less fortunate. Alone this phrase reminds every person with the blessing of sustenance that there are those who struggle to stay warm, fed, and sheltered. But what if we translated this phrase into the literal, “Open! Open your hand…”?

Like the elder yelling at his son to not waste time worrying about who is at the door, instead to just open it up and help whomever it is in their obvious time of need, so too are we being taught in this verse to not only help those in need, rather, we should be doing so in haste and with immediate effort.

This weekend we will be welcoming the new month of Elul. This is the month preceding Rosh Hashanah and our celebration of the Jewish New Year. It is also a month that has many wonderful daily traditions, customs, and laws to awaken our spirit and prepare us for the coming days of awe and sanctity.

Along with the daily blowing of the shofar, the recitation of additional Psalms, and the annual practice of checking the parchment scrolls in our mezuzot and tefillin, there is also a tradition to increase tzedakah during the month of Elul as a reminder of tzedakah’s importance in grounding us in our material needs. Because of this, community annual campaigns are often rolled out at this time of year, highlighting their ability to distribute critical funds and resources to those in need. Our Jewish Federation of San Antonio’s Annual Campaign is no different.

Over the last two years of the pandemic, our San Antonio Annual Campaign has grown from $1.3M to just over $1.4M. This year we have a goal of $1.5M and need your help, generosity, and support to achieve our Annual Campaign’s greatest impact.

$0.99 of every dollar donated to our community campaign goes directly to a local Jewish agency or organization to support vulnerable populations, Jewish life, and other critical causes right here in San Antonio as well as in Israel and Diaspora Jewish communities across the globe.

For 95 years, the Jewish Federation has led the charge to raise these critical funds on behalf of our San Antonio Jewish community. Today we enjoy the benefits of our Jewish community because of those who came before us.

This Elul, may we grasp the opportunity to fulfill this week’s mandate to “Open! Open [our] hands” to those in need and perpetuate our 95-year tradition of contributing to our Annual Campaign. We cannot do this without you and gratefully appreciate your support. Because we are…



Shabbat Shalom,