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November 27, 2014 / 5 Kislev, 5775
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The Greatness Of Charity

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Our sages teach us: “Great is charity and great is its reward.” He who gives charity to the poor, his prayers will be answered; a measure for a measure – midda k’neged midda. He heard the cries of the poor so will G-d hear his prayers when he cries.

The Midrash (Shemos 31) tells us “Nothing is harder to bear than poverty. For he who is crushed by poverty is like one to whom all the troubles of the world cling and upon whom all the curses in Devorim (28: 15-65) have descended.” And Chazal have said, “If all troubles were assembled on one side and poverty on the other, poverty would outweigh them all.”

“For G-d is the Judge, He puts down one and lifts up another (Tehillim  25:8).  To what is this world like? To a wheel of a well in a garden; the earthenware vessels attached to it ascend full from below and descend empty from above. Similarly, not everyone who is rich today is rich tomorrow. Why is this? Because there is a rotating wheel in the world.”

Rabi Aha said: “There is a wheel that rotates in this world because it says, ‘a wise kings sifts the wicked and turns the wheel over them (Mishlei 20:26). Happy is he whose hand is stretched out to the poor.”

 

Wheels Of Fortune Turn

The Midrash tells the story of a pious person who gave a lot of charity. His name was blessed by every poor person in the country. However, the wheels of fortune turned, and this pious man lost all of his riches and became poor.

That year, there was a famine in the land and he and his family suffered from hunger. One day, his wife said to him, “We have eaten the last morsel of bread. What will we feed our children tonight?”

The man looked at her with a pitiful expression. “My dear wife,” he said, “I haven’t a kopek to my name. I do not know what we can do!”

His wife had a beautiful head of hair, her crowning glory. In desperation, she cut off her hair, sold it, and with the money she purchased a measure of fine flour. With the flour she baked a fine challah.

Placing it on the table, she said to her husband, “Please watch the challah while I go to school and bring our children home for dinner. They must be starved for they went away this morning without breakfast.”

 

Gives To The Poor

While she was gone, a poor man knocked on the door and begged for some food. “Please give me something to eat,” he cried. “My wife and children are starving. We haven’t eaten for three days and they are too weak to walk out of the house.”

The pious man didn’t hesitate a moment. He took the challah and gave it to the starving man who began to cry from happiness.

After the poor man departed, the pious man began to worry what his wife would do to him when she heard that he gave away their last piece of bread. He fled to the shul were he began to daven and cry until he fell into a deep and exhausted sleep.

 

Dreams Of Eliyahu

He dreamt that Eliyahu HaNavi was trying to wake him from his sleep.

“Wake up, my good man,” he was saying, “G-d has heard your prayers. He will reward you with interest for the challah you gave away. Accept this payment without fear, for the principle of the deed is very great and it will be saved for you in the world to come.”

He awoke with a start and left the shul.  At the door he found a bag containing a thousand gold coins, with no identification in the bag. Happily, he took it home, and after buying food for his family, he invested the remainder wisely and he became a wealthy man again.

Therefore, does Tehillim say: “The good deeds of a man will reward him in this world and will pave a pathway for him in the next world.”

 

Charity Saves From Death

There was once a tzadeikes who gave every penny she earned to the poor. She and her husband were themselves very poor, and she took in laundry to support the family.

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Tales of the Gaonim-logo

Yonadav was greatly impressed at the vast sums of money the young man had in his possessions.

Tales of the Gaonim-logo

“I do nothing worthwhile,” he modestly replied and refused to discuss any of his deeds. For the man was a very modest and humble person.

While he slept, he dreamed of Eliyahu HaNavi, who was trying to awaken him from his sleep.

“I’ll pay you whether you cure her or kill her,” shouted the loyal husband.

He lacked for nothing materialistic and could have lived the rest of his life, had he chosen to, in the luxury and laziness that dominated the Roman upper class life.

When the soldiers heard this they exclaimed happily: “You mean this is the sacred Jewish fruit? Hurry, get on the horse. You are coming with us to the palace.”

Now let me ask you, what would happen to an infantryman if he deserted his regiment and went to serve in the cavalry? He would be court-martialed, wouldn’t he?”

Dug out beneath his bunk was a little chest which he guarded with his very life. It contained a small Sefer Torah, miniature size, but kosher, and a shofar.

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