Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Returned to Sender

When the Chofetz Chaim, zt”l, was young he was forced to teach to make a living. Although he could certainly have held a respectable position as the rav of a town, he was absolutely unwilling. He also refused to teach those who were older than himself. This left him with very few possibilities for parnasah and he eventually found a job teaching gemara to older bochurim.
When his admirers noticed how absolutely destitute the Chofetz Chaim was, they often pleaded with him to accept a monthly stipend to alleviate his poverty. They tried all sorts of ways to give the money to the Chofetz Chaim in a very respectable manner, but to no avail. Even at a young age he was already resolved not to take money from others. He literally preferred to go hungry.
When he was older and already famous, Rav Meir Hillel Kolotzsky, one of the most respectable people in Grodno, wished to donate a sizable sum of money for the Chofetz Chaim’s personal use. But he already knew that the Chofetz Chaim never agreed to take gifts from others, so he planned to send the money anonymously so it could not be returned.
He sent the money to his mother in Eishishok to send it off to the Chofetz Chaim in an unmarked envelope with a note that said that the money was a gift freely given for the Chofetz Chaim’s use. But the Chofetz Chaim refused to use the money. He left it on one side for almost two years until he finally uncovered a tenuous clue that helped him determine from where the money had come. The moment he understood who the donor had been he sent it back. Exactly two years after the gift had been sent, every penny was returned to the disappointed donor.”

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