Friday, November 20, 2009

Rav Zusia and the Miser

Once when Rav Zusia of Anapoli, zt”l, went around collecting tzedakah with another rav they had a singular experience. It was when they went to visit a certain miser whom the rav knew never donated to any cause, not matter how worthy. When the two were invited into the wealthy miser’s home and he predictably refused to donate a penny, Rav Zusia asked him why.
“What do you mean, why?” barked the man. “I picked up my conduct from a clear gemara in Bava Basra 9. There we find that while one who gives charity receives six blessings, one who speaks kindly to the poor gets eleven. Isn’t it better to honor the poor man without giving a cent? After all, one who does so is granted almost double the blessing, so obviously he is doing the main avodah!”
While the rav who had accompanied Rav Zusia stood speechless at the man’s callousness to the plight of others, Rav Zusia drily replied, “You have not learned the gemara correctly. After all, why would the one who honors the poor be afforded greater blessing when the actual money given to him feeds him and literally saves his life?
“The root of your error is that you think that the money you give the poor is a gift from your resources, but in truth this is not so. We find in many sources that the money that the wealthy man gives the poor is actually the poor man’s which has been deposited with him for the express purpose of returning it to the poor person. One who gives the deposit back is blessed, but someone who refrains from donating to a worthy cause when he can well afford it is nothing less than a thief. If, besides giving a donation, a person also speaks kindly to the poor man he is afforded extra blessings since in this manner he gives the poor man from his own. He has gone beyond merely returning the poor man’s property that has been entrusted with him from on high!”

4 comments:

Adam said...

Thanks for the miisa. Git Shabbes

Micha Golshevsky said...

B'simcha rabbah!

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now. Keep it up!
And according to this article, I totally agree with your opinion, but only this time! :)