The Torah says “Asser T’Asser“, “You shall surely give tithe”. This is a command to a farmer to give away one tenth of his produce, or one tenth of a businessman’s profits, to the Levites and needy. “Maaser” in Hebrew.
The Sages have a saying: “Asser, bishvil shetisasher“, “Give away a tenth that you may become rich.” The Hebrew words “Asser” (give a tenth) and “Osher” (wealth) derive from the same root.
Here is one story among many from the Talmud how someone who gave a tenth was rewarded.
Once upon a time many years ago in Israel, there lived a farmer whose field produced a thousand bushels of wheat every year, a substantial amount. The first thing he always did after harvest was to set apart a full tenth as “Maaser“. This was a total of one hundred bushels of wheat – quite a lot. He gave it away happily though, to the servants of G-d in the Holy Temple and the needy. There was plenty for whatever he needed, besides savings. He was getting more prosperous every year.
Before he passed away, he told his son: “Everything will now belong to you to do as you wish. Listen to my advice and faithfully give “Maaser“, a tenth to charity, and our land will continue to produce one thousand bushels a year.”
Harvest time came, and the land grew one thousand bushels of wheat. The son followed his father’s instruction and gave one hundred bushels as “Maaser” to charity.
The next year the son felt he did not have to give away so much, so for whatever excuse he gave ninety bushels instead.
The year after that, the land only grew nine hundred bushels. The son tried to make up his loss and gave only eighty bushels.
He banked on the next year’s harvest, but to his dismay it only produced eight hundred bushels.
He did not realize what was happening, and fanatically kept cutting back the amount he gave out.
After a few years he was getting only one hundred bushels out of his farm. This was as much as his father originally gave for charity.
He invited his friends and family to help him bear his misfortune. Everyone came, but they were dressed as if for a celebration.
“Why did you come to insult me?” he cried.
“G-d forbid”, they said. “You used to own the land and give ten percent to G-d’s dependents. Now G-d owns the land and you get the ten percent. You deserve congratulations on become a servant of G-d in the Holy Temple.
The young man realized the lesson his friends taught him, and gave a lot more charity. Very soon he was even more prosperous than before, and everybody lived happily ever after.