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Tuesday, Sivan 28, 5781 / June 7, 2021


This week’s Parsha is Korach. After Korach and his people were punished due to their revolt against Aaron’s being the High Priest, G-d awarded Aaron and the priestly family (Kohanim) with twenty four gifts which the Jewish people have to give the kohanim for their service in the Mishkan and Holy Temple.


Many of these gifts applied only during the days of the Temple when sacrifices were brought and the kohen got a portion of the sacrifice. Some apply to this day, such as the redemption of the first-born son, called Pidyon Haben. He has to be redeemed from the kohen, after thirty days, for the amount of five shekalim.


We find a very interesting expression in the Torah when describing these gifts to be given to the kohen. The Torah says, “All the gifts… I have given to you (the kohen), to your sons and daughters along with you as an eternal portion. It is everlasting, as a covenant of salt before G-d, for you and your descendants along with you.”


Q.   Why does the Torah describe these priestly gifts as, “a covenant of salt”?


A.   In order for meat to be kosher to eat, it must be salted first to draw out the blood. Thus, salt causes meat to shrink.  On the other hand it preserves it and gives it a much longer shelf life.


The same is with Tzedakah-charity, which requires giving away some of our possessions.  Although it may seem that by giving away some of our hard-earned money to charity we now have less, yet, the truth is that giving charity preserves our money, just as salt preserves the food.  In the long run we end up having much more.


The Talmud relates that once while travelling near Jerusalem, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai saw a young woman picking through the garbage for food.  When she saw him she said, “Rabbi, please support me.”


Rabbi Yochanan could see that she was not an ordinary beggar. “Whose daughter are you?” he asked.


“I am the daughter of Nakdimon ben Gurion,” she replied.  Rabbi Yochanan was astonished, because Nakdimon was at one time one of the wealthiest Jews in Jerusalem. “What happened to all of your father’s wealth?” he asked her.


She responded, “Rabbi, you know the famous saying, ‘melach mammon chaser’ – ‘if one wants to salt his money (i.e. wants to preserve it) he should reduce it (i.e. give away some to charity).  But my father did not give charity properly according to his means and therefore his fortunes were not preserved…”


The Torah connects giving charity to salt to tell us when we give charity we are really not giving away, rather we are preserving our wealth!