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May 22, 2015 / 4 Sivan, 5775
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One Good Deed


One Good Deed

A person should always strive to do good, for one good deed alone may assure him the rewards of Gan Eden. For Rabi Yehudah HaNasi would say, “One may acquire Gan Eden in a single hour while another may acquire it after many years [over a lifetime].” (Avodah Zara 10b).

One such incident occurred many years ago in the town of Koritz wherein lived a tailor who made a special effort to violate every precept of the Torah. No respectable Jew would deal with him.

One day the tailor died and as was the custom of the time, the gabbai of the town called upon the people to attend the funeral of a fellow Jew. But no person would attend the funeral of this evil person.

The gabbai then approached the home of the Gaon Reb Pinchas. Imagine his surprise when the Gaon took his cane and started out for the funeral. When the gabbai next visited Rav Yakov, and told him that Reb Pinchas was attending the funeral, he expressed surprise.

“I must see why Reb Pinchas is attending the funeral of such a sinner,” he said and he too started out for the funeral.

Everyone Attends the Funeral

When the people of the city saw these two pious rabbanim attending the funeral of the sinner, they became intrigued and they all began to follow the entourage. Eventually the entire city turned out to pay homage to the tailor.

On the way home from the funeral, the crowd surrounded Reb Pinchas and demanded to know why he had attended the funeral.

“I will tell you the reason,” said the Gaon. “Two months ago I was trying to raise hachnassas kallah funds. I finally succeeded in raising sufficient money to arrange for the wedding. But at the last hour the groom backed out. He said he had been promised a new suit by the bride’s parents and unless he received it, he would call off the wedding.

“In desperation the bride turned to me for help. As I had already approached every resident of the community for money, I had no choice but to turn to the tailor for help. That night I entered his home and told him the story. He gave me a ruble. But as I started to leave he called me back and said, ‘Rebbe, if I give you all the money for the entire suit will you promise me the future world, Olam Habah?’

“Yes,” I said. “He then gave me fourteen rubles and I was able to perform the wedding ceremony. Now that I heard that this tailor died I decided to attend his funeral and see the results of his charity.

“Would you believe it,” continued the Rabbi before the multitude of people, “over the coffin I saw a shining halo of a suit and angels dancing around the coffin waiting to escort it into Gan Eden. Therefore you can see how great is the mitzvah of tzedakah. One mitzvah alone saved this man and assured him a place in the next world.”

Hospitality To Strangers

Being hospitable to travelers is one the cardinal mitzvos of our Torah. The Talmud tells us: Rabi Yehudah said, “Hachnassas orchim is greater than even welcoming the presence of the Shechinah” (Shabbos 127a). Rabi Yochanan said, “Hospitality to strangers is as great as the early attendance at the Beis Hamedrash” and Rabi Dimi of Neharea said, “It is greater than the early attendance at the Beis Hamedrash.” Therefore every community in the small towns in Europe, would have a gabbai whose duty it was to assign travelers to the various homes in the community for Shabbos. When a stranger would arrive in town he would seek out this gabbai who would then place him in one of the well-to-do homes.

One Friday, very late in the afternoon, a merchant entered the town of Altuna. As the gabbai had already exhausted all of the host’s homes, he was in a quandary where to send the poor man for Shabbos.

“You better see the rav, the Gaon, Rav Yonason Jonathan Eibschitz,” he said. “Perhaps he may have a place for you. Although he himself has already taken more of his share of people, he may have a suggestion.”

They both went to the Gaon’s home where ,as usual, there were more than a dozen guests and absolutely no place for another person.

“Tell me gabbai,” asked the Gaon,” Does Reb Lazer have any guests for this Shabbos?”

“That skinflint,” snorted the gabbai, “He is the wealthiest man in town and yet he will never allow a stranger to enter his home. He is too sick to entertain guests, he claims.”

“I have a plan,” replied the Gaon. Calling the merchant over to him he said, “If you will follow my instructions to the letter I can assure you that this wealthy miser will welcome you with outstretched arms.”

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The great giant of his time, the Vilna Gaon, once said that the Shaagas Aryeh had the entire Talmud and its commentators at his fingertips and that he could relate the gist of all of them and their sources in one hour.

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“I will tell you,” replied the rav. “I am very puzzled at why you suddenly desire to honor me and have me as your guest. What quality do you find in me that is new and worthy of merit?

“I wanted you to have a taste of the cold,” answered Rav Chaim. “This way, you too can feel the intense cold and realize the suffering of this man and his wife, who are now residing in a bitterly cold house.”

“Don’t worry,” said the king, “what could it be worth, two or three talents of gold? I’ll give you ten talents of gold, so you can forget about it.”

Shmuel HaKatan shook his head and said: “No, what happened here today is a sign not of great love. On the contrary, it is a bad omen.”

The arguments, however, could never appease his wife and one Thursday she came to him for money to purchase food for Shabbos.

He walked out of the room, making sure to leave the door ajar so that the two litigants could hear his voice.

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Gaonim-Midrash-logo-NEW

The great giant of his time, the Vilna Gaon, once said that the Shaagas Aryeh had the entire Talmud and its commentators at his fingertips and that he could relate the gist of all of them and their sources in one hour.

Gaonim-Midrash-logo-NEW

As for myself, I can only answer that the yetzer hara has persuaded me to take the position because of the honor.

“It must be that beggar,” he exclaimed. “He probably stole my cane.”

“If, however, he rules the other way – that something is not kosher when in reality it is kosher – and thus robs a poor man of his money, this is a far more serious thing.

“Come now, I insist. Tell me what errand of mercy you are on so that I too may have a share in the mitzvah.”

One of the most remarkable men in chassidic lore was Rav Yaakov Yitzchak Horowitz, known as the Chozeh of Lublin. Rav Yaakov Yitzchak was responsible for chassidus capturing the hearts of the vast majority of Polish Jewry. He was not only a great scholar but also possessed humility and modesty, traits that drew many other […]

The story of the Bnei Yisrael in the land of Mitzrayim is a tale that has become tragically repetitive in the history of our people. It is the story of a land which allows Jews to enter, devote their talents and energies to building that land and making it strong, only to have the inhabitants […]

The man has been found guilty and his soul is bitter because of it.

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