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Be Selfish

Thursday, 23 May, 2013 - 8:00 am


Dear Rabbi, 

I do good deeds yet have ulterior motives. Does it make me a bad person?

Your Selfish Friend


Dear Friend,

I will quote a story I received from my colleague Rabbi Moss from Sydney when he was asked a similar question.

A philanthropist once came to Rabbi Schneur Zalman, the author of the Tanya, to complain that he felt he was giving charity for the wrong reasons. The man lamented before his Rebbe, "I am indeed generous toward the poor, but it is without any sincerity."

"Without sincerity? Nonsense!" replied the Rebbe. "There is plenty of sincerity. Perhaps you are not sincere in giving charity. But the poor are very sincere in receiving your charity. Even if you don't mean it, they do!"

Don't get too preoccupied with intentions. Actions count more. If you are doing good, even for selfish reasons, it is still good. If selfish motives are what it takes to keep you doing good, so be it.

Hope this helps,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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