Friday, March 7, 2008

A Coin of Fire

Chazal in Shekalim 4 state that when Moshe was unclear regarding machzis hashekel, Hashem showed him a coin that appeared to be of fire. Why did Hashem choose to show Moshe Rabbeinu a flaming coin? The Noam Elimelech zt”l explains that a coin is like a flame. Just as fire can be used to burn and destroy, it can also be used to shed nurturing warmth and light. Similarly, a coin that is donated to a truly charitable cause can bring life to the needy. But if a coin is given to the wrong cause, it can consume the lives of others.

Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev zt”l, once dreamed that he was witnessing a man’s judgment at the hands of the heavenly court. Every deed, both good and bad, was fully weighed and measured, and when all was said and done, the bad unfortunately outweighed the good.

In his dream, Rav Levi Yitzchak noticed a small coin buried among the good deeds and asked the heavenly court, “Tell me, what good did the man do with that?”

A heavenly voice proclaimed, “That coin was given to a poor family with seven children.”

Rav Levi Yitzchak said triumphantly, “If so, then the whole family should count towards his merit. That money gave life to the husband the wife, and all the children!” The scales then tipped in his favor.

They then brought a second man in, and his good deeds outweighed his sins. However, the accusing angels pointed out that he had stolen a coin from a family with seven children, all of whom later died. “The theft of that one coin should weigh against him as if had murdered them!”

Rav Levi Yitzchak wouldn’t hear of it. “The first man gave only one coin, but it was all that he could. He meant to give life to the whole family, so they all stand in his merit. But this man only meant to steal a single coin, not to kill an entire family! Judge him by his intentions, too, and call it petty theft.” And the scales tipped back in the man’s favor.


Spiritual Dan said...

It should have never gotten so far! The man in judgment should have repented to avoid judgment from above, as Rabbeinu says.

Micha Golshevsky said...