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The "I give up" story Part 2

Friday, 14 August, 2020 - 4:17 am

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Which words jumps out more at you when you see the term:

‘I give up’.

There are several options.

 I give UP.


I GIVE up.


The third option has a small i. A big GIVE. An even bigger UP.

Which way do you see it?

Last week I wrote an article about feeling like ‘giving up’ and how I had discovered that the word UP is an integral part of ‘giving up’. The lesson I had learned was that in a reframed context, ‘giving up’ means realizing that (after you have done whatever YOU can), the true reality is that HE – G-d is in charge.

Once you give yourself over to UP – to G-d, life becomes better and more joyous. (In Yiddish the word often used for G-d is ‘Eibershter’ which means literally the ‘Higher One’ the one who is ‘up above’).

I received much feedback on my article. 

One person wrote to me angrily. Obviously, he had read the heading without reading the article. He was irate that I had used the words ‘I give up’ in my subject line. ‘Giving up’, he berated me, ‘is anathema to Judaism’. And I happen to agree with him. He is spot-on. If it’s used in the context of giving up hope.  Sticking up your hands in defeat and falling into a state of hopelessness, is totally against the ethos and values of Torah. (click here for link to articles about faith and trust in Hashem).

Thank G-d many people did read the article and got the point. They wrote to me with thanks for being honest about the anxieties that some of us go through at times, affirming that they too had gone through periods of feeling out of control. The ‘giving UP’ concept, in terms of lifting our eyes and thoughts to our Father in Heaven in complete faith and trust, was reassuring to them.

The most uplifting response I received was from a friend who is a leader in the business world and in the world of philanthropy. He wrote ‘I too am ‘giving-up’ and allocating an unscheduled donation to Chabad of Thailand’. It took me a second to catch what he was saying and how he was using my words in the context of his gift. 

Obviously, the words that jumped out to him in the phrase ‘giving up’ was GIVING. And he decided to ‘UP his GIVE’. 

This inspired me. Not only because of the surprise and largesse of his donation. Of course, the financial tzedakah was extremely helpful and deeply appreciated. In an ever-greater way, he gave me a living example of how one could hone their character to becoming more giving. By showing how his giving habits had become so deeply rooted in his subconscious.

I recalled that there are studies that show that the words you see first reveal your subconscious personality. 

His trait of giving had obviously been developed to the extent that this is what his eyes noticed, and this is the way his brain processed the aphorism ‘I give up’. 

His eyes caught the words ‘Giving’. And he went ahead and gave.

I found myself feeling envious of his proclivity to giving. 

(Torah teaches that it’s healthy to be envious of someone who is better than you.  As it makes you work on yourself to become better). 

It is the greatest blessing to be able to give.

Don’t roll your eyes and say ‘I can’t afford to give’. You don’t need to be wealthy with money to give. Giving has so many variations and expressions. You just need to be prepared to stop focusing solely on yourself and leave room to see other people and their needs. Everyone has some way that they can give to others.

Giving is a G-dly character trait.

The weekly Parsha says ‘cleave to G-d’.

How is that achieved?

The Sages taught, you connect and cleave to G-d by acting like G-d. 

Mimicking G-d can be achieved by mimicking G-d’s benevolence. 

Just like G-d takes care of his creatures, similarly we need to be giving to others. 

Giving to the undeserving, this is G-d’s ‘trademark’. 

We can act like Him when we incorporate kindness and benevolence into our lives. Especially when we give to someone who doesn’t ‘deserve’ our help i.e. we don’t know them or ‘owe’ them any favors. Click here for more on this.

This is why giving feels so right. So good. So wholesome. Ironically, you give and then you have less, but you gain so much more. You gain the feeling of inner satisfaction. Its naturally that way because G-d, the Creator, programmed us to be in the Divine image and giving is Divine.

Giving is also ‘catchy’. Once somebody has it, it spreads fairly quickly and easily. 

Actually, all human behaviors are ‘contagious’. 

(This is why we need to try and be surrounded by good people.  Or be one of those influencers who changes their environment for the good).

I saw this come to life this week in an inspiring and compelling way.

A young man B.N., who apparently also saw the ‘GIVE’ in ‘Give UP’, wrote to me that he was sending a small donation to help me in my work. He added, that if I knew of a few other causes that could benefit from his modest help, I should let him know. 

A cause jumped into my head almost automatically. I thought about a friend of a friend who had lost his infant child and subsequently fell into circumstances that made him lose his business. He needed help. Every small bit of help he could get. I told B.N. about this unfortunate family. B.N. pledged an amount, that while not huge was certainly more than just a token donation and I knew that the person in need would be most appreciative to receive it. A few hours later B.N. wrote to me that a business associate he had mentioned it to, matched his donation and would give the same amount. A few hours later, B.N. told me that yet another friend was also sending the same amount. A few hours later B.N. told me that a third friend from a totally different locale was joining and giving the same amount to be sent to the person in need. In other words, B.N.’s donation was quadrupled.

My friends’ friend was surprised by the unexpected help and sent a beautiful note:

May the creator of the world pay you back a thousand times as much. and I really hope that you will LITERALLY see the reward from Hashem physically and visibly and right away


May G-D Almighty open the gates of heaven to you and give you all your hearts desires.


Thank you. and understandably I wish you blessings of unlimited success in Thailand.

May the rest of the year bring you only JOY and HAPPINESS, and may it be your best year ever!

May the rest of the year be even better than last year. MUCH MUCH better. and in every way possible.

And the main thing is that all the good and happiness should be in a revealed way.

AND REMEMBER, IT'S STILL:  Tehay Shnas Pla'os...!!! (Hebrew acronym of the year ‘may it be a year of WONDERS’)    May it indeed be so.

All the best

I shared this with B.N. and he responded 

Rabbi, I feel like this belongs to all of us. A chance encounter with a relative of yours in New York, encourages me to reach out to you a Rabbi in Thailand to give regards and offer help, you share the information of someone who needs desperate help back in the USA. 

We could not write that story if we tried (How I ended up in Thailand to get on your list a little over a year and a half ago is another story of it's own). 

Thank you for forwarding our friend's message and may all his wishes come true. Thank you for your help facilitating this anonymously!!! 

What an amazing week this has been. Thank you for the inspiration. 

May we all continue to do good, be good and see good in every moment of every day. 

Good Shabbos, 


My dear friends, I am sharing this with you as it inspired and uplifted me.

And as we are approaching Rosh Hashana (Friday September 18-20) it’s also time to start blessing each other with a Shana Tova and I wanted to share these beautifully articulated blessings with you as well.

Action is the main thing. Let’s get to actionable items.

There are several key aspects here that lead to action.

They are all contained in the oft used statement that people say without thinking much. ‘I give up’. 

  1. Remember to give yourself UP to He Who is the ultimate UP, G-d. 

  1. Make sure to Up your GIVE. GIVE and give even more than you have given in the past. 

  1. (optional, for maximum effect) try to reduce and make your ‘i’ smaller.

It’s ironic and somewhat counter intuitive. To really get maximum happiness in life, you have to focus a little less on the I. A little less focus on yourself is a very helpful first step to getting out of the self-defeating cycle of feelings of entitlement and self-pity. 

The I is important, as low self-esteem is a not a healthy state of being. But you can use the simpler i without a capital. Or even with a capital if you like using proper English but without a bold font. 


Focus on giving to OTHERS. You will be so much completer. 

This is the path to focus on G-d and trust fully in Him. 


Try it. 

It works. 

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor


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