“Every man whose heart uplifted him came, and everyone whose spirit inspired him brought the portion of Hashem ….” (Shemos 35:21)
The Or HaChaim writes that there are two categories of people who give. One gives according to his financial ability; he is one “whose spirit inspired him.” The other individual is moved to give even more than he is capable of because “his heart uplifted him,” i.e. he has an exceptionally good heart. Indeed, when describing the individual whose heart was uplifted, the pasuk uses the word “ish,” which refers to a distinguished person. The second individual is not on the same level as the first person, and he is therefore not described as “ish.”
When one desires to do good for another with all of his heart, he does not concern himself with details, e.g. “Do I have the money to help him? Do I have the time to help him?”
R’ Chaim Shmuelevitz in Sichas Mussar notes that only one mitzvah in the Torah, the mitzvah of bikurim, has the person bowing to Hashem. Why? Because performing the mitzvah demonstrates a heart that is powerfully uplifted.
Bikurim requires the farmer to bring the “first fruits” of the seven species of the Land of Israel to the Bais HaMikdash. It is most gratifying for the farmer to enjoy a bountiful crop of fruit after he has expended so much toil and labor working the land. Yet, he gives the “first fruits” to Hashem. He therefore merits to bow before G-d, because he has demonstrated that he has transcended the material world and is dedicated to heaven.
Shlomo HaMelech teaches in Mishlei (27:19), “As water reflects a face back to a face, so one’s heart is reflected back to him by another.” R’ Simcha Bunim of Peshischa notes that when one wants to see his reflection, he usually uses a mirror. He points out that when using a mirror one can stand at a great distance and still see his reflection. However, in order to see his face in the water, one has to bring his face very close to the water’s surface. Similarly, if one wishes to fathom the depths of another’s heart, and discern what he really needs, he has to be close to him.
A person once came to the Gerer Rebbe, the Bais Yisroel, and told him he experienced extreme sadness. “I lack nothing. I have money, children, a house, health. Everything is perfect for me,” the individual cried, “but I have no joie de vivre. I am very pained. What should I do?
The Bais Yisroel answered: You speak of the remedy every single day, but you are not paying attention. The Mizmor Shir (Tehillim 30:12) says, “You, Hashem, opened my sackcloth and strengthened me with gladness.” At the time when a person opens his bundle to others, and shares his good fortune with others, he will merit blessing and his heart will be filled with joy. “That is the reason you are sad,” said the Rebbe. “You are not giving enough to others.”
The Ari HaKadosh notes that every time a person does a mitzvah it is imprinted on his forehead. When he does the next mitzvah the first imprint recedes, and the new mitzvah appears. However, when a person gives tzedakah the mitzvah illuminates his forehead and remains there forever, in this world and the next.
As the financial well-being of many households slowly deteriorates, I am increasingly dismayed by the number of families in our community who find themselves in dire straits.
A few days ago, I met with a lovely family who, caught up in the quagmire of economic difficulties, were now being forced to give up the apartment they had been living in for many years, because they could no longer afford the rent. They had found a small basement apartment in a less desirable part of town on the outskirts which would have to do for the foreseeable future. However, they had some halachic questions they needed answered. They wanted to know if they had to give tzedakah, now that they themselves were a “charity case” so to speak. They wanted to know if they had to leave their own mezuzos behind and buy new mezuzos, as the apartment would probably be rented to Jews. They also needed to know if it was possible to kosher the oven in their new apartment and how to do it. It was truly sad to hear how desperate they were.
After I answered each of their questions, the couple sent their children on their way while they remained behind with a few more questions they wished to share privately.
Seemingly discomfited, the husband sat quietly, looking down at the floor, while the wife stammered apologetically that she had not wanted to speak in front of the children.
She noted that Pesach was approaching, and shemura matzos would be a prohibitive expense for them. She inquired whether they would be permitted to use machine matzos this year. She then pointed out that they used to drink wine for the four kosos, but to cut costs they wanted to know whether it was halachically permissible to drink grape juice instead. She then wanted to ascertain whether it was mandatory to have the advocated basar v’dagim (meat and fish) for the seder meals or could they perhaps partake of dairy meals.
I thought to myself: “Who is like Your nation, G-d? Look down at Your people with pride, whose only concern is to fulfill Your mitzvos in the proper way.”
Without a moment’s hesitation, I immediately assured her that there would be no need to compromise in this area. I promised the couple that they would celebrate their Pesach sedarim with all the appropriate enhancements.
Each year I undertake to collect money, especially for Yom Tov, on behalf of destitute people. I have established a special Yom Tov Fund that I personally administer and distribute directly into the hands of those who are most in need.
I invite all our loyal readers of the Jewish Press and friends of Klal Yisrael to share in this great mitzvah and give chizuk to families, individuals, and children in need. In the zechus of your contribution, may you merit blessing and success, a year of good health, nachas, happiness and prosperity.
Please send your contribution to Khal Bnei Yitzchok Yom Tov Fund, c/o Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, 1336 E. 21 Street, Brooklyn, NY 11210. If you would like any special tefillos to be offered for a shidduch, shalom bayis, parnassah, or a refuah, please include the person’s name and the mother’s name.