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Monday, Menachem Av 25, 5778 / August 6, 2018

One of the many mitzvot in this week’s Parsha, Re’ay, is the mitzvah of Tzedakah (charity). 


Speaking about helping the poor, the Torah says, “You shall surely give him.  And your heart shall not grieve when you give him; because for this the L-rd your G-d shall bless you in all your works and in all that you put your hand to.


The Talmud tells the following story: A Roman general by the name of Turnisrufus, asked Rabbi Akiva; "If your G-d loves poor people, as you claim, why doesn't He feed them Himself?  Why does he leave their care in the hands of others?"


Rabbi Akiva replied, "G-d gives us the opportunity to perform the mitzvah of Tzedakah, to help others. In the merit of this mitzvah we are blessed and saved from punishment in the World-to-Come."


"Just the opposite!” exclaimed Turnisrufus.  Helping the poor will bring you punishment in the World-to-Come. I will explain this with the following parable, he continued.  When the king is angry at his servants, he throws them in jail.  Surely anyone who feeds and clothes them will be punished by the king.  The same is with G-d. If He punished someone to be poor, for sure the one who shows them kindness will be punished, not rewarded."


"Your analogy is wrong," replied Rabbi Akiva. "I will give you a different example.  The king's son sinned against his father.  In punishment, his father, the king, threw him in jail.  Then a person had pity on him and fed the king's son. Do you think that the king will be angry?  In fact, the king is certainly happy that someone took pity on his son. “


“The same is with helping the poor,” said Rabbi Akiva.  “When we help them, we are helping G-d's children and this invokes G-d's love and mercy upon us.”


Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Pshischa said it is not enough to give only because you pity the poor person.  You should also give because it is a mitzvah to givebecause G-d commanded us to give.


When a poor person came to him for alms, Rabbi Simcha Bunim would give him twice.  He would give them a donation when he came to his home and he would give them again as he left.


When he was once asked by a poor man why he gave him twice, he replied, “When you approached me for a donation, I gave you out of pity.  I felt terrible for you and gave so that I would feel better. It was a selfish giving.  The second time I gave was to fulfill G-d’s commandment - to give charity!”




In loving memory of Miriam Altman- Miriam bat Leib- Yartzeit is today, Av 25.

May her memory be a blessing to her family & may her soul rest in peace in Gan Eden