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Thursday, Menachem Av 28, 5778 / August 9, 2018


In this week’s Parsha, Re’ay, we find over fifty of the mitzvot in the Torah.


In this Parsha we come across the commandment of helping the poor (Tzedakah): “If there will be a destitute person from among one of your brothers, you must not harden your heart or shut your hand from your destitute brother. You must repeatedly open your hand to him and give him charity (if he won’t take charity, give him a loan) sufficient to fulfill his requirements that he is lacking… You should give him repeatedly, and your heart should not feel bad when you give to him. For, as a result, G-d your G-d, will bless all your work and everything you do.”


The following story is from the Talmud: Binyamin, the righteous, was in charge of collecting and distributing money to the poor. One year, when there was a great famine in Israel, a woman came to him and asked for help. Binyamin told her that there was no money left in the charity fund.


The woman said to him, “Rabbi, if you don’t help me, then my seven children and I will die of hunger.” Binyamin told her that he would personally take care of all her needs.


A while later, Binyamin became seriously ill and was about to die. The angels in heaven said to G-d, “Master of the universe, You said that whoever saves one life is considered like they saved the entire world! Binyamin the righteous, who saved the lives of a mother and her seven children, is it fair that he should die young?!”


The Talmud tells us that the Heavenly Court immediately nullified the decree, and he was granted an additional 22 years to his life. This is the power of Tzedakah-charity.


Here is another Talmudic story: Rabbi Akiva had a daughter about whom stargazers forecast that she would die on her wedding day.  This caused Rabbi Akiva much worry. 


The night of her wedding, when she went to sleep, she took a golden brooch from her headdress and stuck it into the wall. In the morning, she was shocked to see a dead poisonous snake, with her golden brooch pierced through its eye!  She ran to tell her father.


"My daughter," asked Rabbi Akiva, "What have you done to deserve such a miracle?"


"At my wedding," she replied, "a poor man came and pleaded for a meal to satisfy his hunger. I saw that everyone was too busy with the wedding festivities to help him, so I got up and gave him my own portion that you, father, had personally served me."  


"That's it!" her father exclaimed.  "That mitzvah saved your life!"