Knowing But Not Revealing: A Purim Tax Deduction Loophole, by Lieba B. Ruth

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Purim, the springtime Jewish holiday celebrating the power of masking, is focused on the events that happened in Persia long ago and retold in the Megillat Esther, the Scroll of Esther. For just one day (unlike other much longer celebrations of the lunar year), up go the masks, ultimately victory is ours, and down they must come.

Charade plays a great part in Jewish tradition. We consider the highest form of tzedaka (charity) to be that neither the recipient nor donor knows the face of the other. The recipient doesn’t really lose “face”, and the gift is not an ego-boosting investment. 

Even when Moshe demands of the Great Donor “Show me your face …” (Exodus 33:18) atop Mt. Sinai, he is “only” granted view of the back. The encounter takes place in a cloud, veiling the events to the people awaiting the outcome below.

Because we cannot live on two planes, we are granted the opportunity to disguise our external features. We develop the capacity to know each others hearts and find even greater satisfaction in the exchange.

Yet, too often, we act as if someone else — who looks remarkably like oneself — is going to provide the support for nonprofit organizations we deem are necessary for a decent life. We assume / hope / pray that someone “else” is doing our part. It’s their turn to make a critical contribution, even a small one, that gives relief, replaces a worn-out part, opens the door wide enough to make a difference.

Have a great Purim and then cut the charade. Take a look in the mirror and find your own face. Please do what only you can do! Make a donation to your favorite nonprofits in honor of Purim (P.S. It’s tax deductible!)

“Knowing But Not Revealing: A Purim Tax Deduction Loophole” by Lieba B. Ruth, The Holy Beggar (aka Lauren W. Deutsch), was shared for Purim 5773 with a CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported license. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to the Open Siddur Project by way of our fiscal sponsor, please donate here.

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