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The Greatness Of Charity

Tales of the Gaonim-logo

The husband was a brilliant man, well versed in the sciences and astrology and was able to foretell coming events. One day, he read in the stars that his wife would fall off the roof on a certain day and be killed. He loved his wife very dearly, so he prayed to G-d for help. He dreaded the coming of that day, and he worried continuously while he kept the secret to himself.

On the fateful day, he begged of her not to go outside of the house. “I’ll collect your wash today but promise me you will not go out of the house.”

Seeing how anxious her husband was she agreed. Before he left, the husband gave her a loaf of bread, and a container of cheese so she wouldn’t have to go to the store to purchase food.

The wife kept herself busy all morning washing clothes. In mid afternoon, she decided to go out of the house to hang up the clothes, forgetting the admonitions of her husband. Walking outside, she saw that the line, which had been attached to the roof of her house, was torn.

 

Poor Man At The Door

Pulling a ladder to the house, she began to climb it. Halfway up, she heard someone knocking at the front door.

“Who is there?” she shouted.

“I am a poor man who has not eaten all day. Could you spare some food?” was the reply.

She thought to herself, “I have more than enough food for myself in the house. Surely I can spare some of it.” She climbed down the ladder, entered her house and divided the food in half, which she gave to the poor man.

When the man departed, she again began to climb the ladder. Again, she heard a knock at the front door and when she climbed down, she saw that it was another poor person.

“I have not eaten in two days,” he wailed. “Unless you give me something, I’ll faint from hunger.”

“I’m not that hungry anyway,” she said. “I’m so busy all day that I won’t have time to eat. When my husband comes, he’ll bring with him enough food for supper. This poor man needs it more than me.”

She then gave him the remainder of her food. When he departed, she climbed to the roof, fixed the line, and descended without accident. She hung up the wash to dry.

At the end of the afternoon, her husband returned and was amazed to see all the wash dry and folded.

“How did you manage to hang the wash today?” he asked her. “I saw the line was torn and I was sure that you wouldn’t go out of the house today.”

“It was I who fixed the line,” she answered. “I climbed to the roof and repaired it.”

“Tell me, what good deed did you do today?” he asked her in amazement at seeing her alive.

She then told him of her experiences with the two poor people.

“Those two good deeds of charity saved your life,” he said to her, and he then told her of the terrible forecast about her which had been revealed to him. Therefore does it say, “Tzeddakah tazil mimaves!”

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