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Friday, Shevat 30, 5784 / February 9, 2024


Today is the first day of Rosh Chodesh Adar 1. Shabbat will be the second day of Rosh Chodesh.


In this week’s Parsha, Mishpatim, we find mitzvot associated with helping others, kindness, being generous, giving charity and helping the needy.  Here are two stories from the Talmud.


One of the Talmudic sages was called Rabbi Nachum Ish Gam Zu. The reason he was called, “Gam Zu” is because no matter what happened to him, even in a very difficult situation, Rabbi Nachum would always say, "Gam Zu L'Tovah" - “This too is for the good.”


In his later years, Rabbi Nachum Ish Gam Zu was blind, his hands and feet were paralyzed, his whole body was full of pain, and he lived in great poverty. Once, when his house was in danger of collapsing, his students wanted to move Rabbi Nachum and all his belongings out of the house. Rabbi Nachum said to them, "First move out my belongings, then take me out of the house, for as long as I am in the house, it will not collapse!"  


The students did as they were told. No sooner had they taken Rabbi Nachum out of the house, the house collapsed. They asked him, "If you are such a righteous person why are you suffering so much?"


Rabbi Nachum replied: "It’s my fault, I brought it upon myself. Once, I was travelling to my father-in-law, and I had with me three donkeys laden with all kinds of food. As I came to the house, a poor man approached me and said, 'Rabbi, give me something to eat.' I answered, ‘Wait until I will unload the donkeys and then I will feed you.’  But I wasn't fast enough, and the poor man died.  


When I saw this, I prayed to G-d; "My eyes that didn't have pity on the eyes of the poor man should become blind. My hands and feet that didn't have pity on the poor man should be paralyzed. I still wasn't satisfied and accepted pain on my entire body."


When the students heard this, they said, "Woe to us that we see you like this!"   Rabbi Nachum said to his students, "Woe to me if you wouldn't see me like this, for these sufferings will help me to be forgiven for what I have done!" The story of Rabbi Nachum teaches us not to delay helping those who are in need!


Another Talmudic story about the greatness of the mitzvah of Tzedakah-charity: Rabbi Akiva had a daughter whom stargazers forecast would die on her wedding day.  This caused Rabbi Akiva much worry. 


On her wedding night, when she went to bed, 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, so I got up and gave him my own portion that you, father, had personally served me."  "That's it!" her father exclaimed.  "The Mitzvah saved your life!"





Montreal candle lighting time: 4:54 / Shabbat ends: 5:59