Monday, August 15, 2011

Withholding One’s Blessings

The Alter of Kelm, zt”l, discusses the awful consequences of being penny-pinching. “Miserliness is a reprehensible middah. Rabbeinu Yonah teaches that this defect is the source of all bad middos, since a person afflicted with it is liable to do any evil to avoid paying money. One who is enthralled with making money will eventually fall into very low places. His greed will make it easy for him to lose touch with what is important, as Rabbeinu Tam writes in Sefer Hayashar.
“Kayin was one of the first human beings and was clearly very spiritually developed. He understood why we bring korbanos from his own intellect and he brought a sacrifice. In addition, Kayin knew that only Hevel’s sacrifice was pleasing to Hashem.
The Alter continued, “Nevertheless, despite all of his advantages, Kayin killed his brother. What caused this? His lack of open-handedness, since if he had been generous, his korban would have been accepted. Kayin reasoned that beauty in serving Hashem was unnecessary, since the main thing is one’s intention. If what Hashem wants is what is in a person’s heart, why waste resources?
“Although this is true regarding someone who has nothing or very little to give, it is an error for one who has more means to use this an excuse. He should give what he has, in accordance with his means, to Hashem. It is only by bringing the best we can that we show that we are willing to give anything we have for Hashem.”
This is the meaning of Moshe’s words to Yisrael: “When you ascend to the land, sacrifice yashrus, not chovos.” This teaches that one should bring a sacrifice which is fitting, not a cheap offering that is below his means.
But the Bamidbar Yehudah, zt”l, explains differently. “Moshe was telling them the right way to approach Hashem. We must always focus on yashrus, what is righteous about the Jewish people. Never chovos, their sins or deficiencies.”

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