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In this week’s parsha the Torah names the non-kosher species and includes the chasida (Vayikra 11:19). The Talmud cites R’ Yehuda (Chullin 63a) who associates her name to the root word of chesed and notes that the chasida does chesed with its friends.

The Rambam notes that this seems to be in contrast to all the non-kosher birds who are cruel in their nature. The Gerrer Rebbe explains that analysis of the words of the Talmud indicates that the bird does kind acts only with her friends. True middas hachesed – loving kindness – extends beyond one’s own circle of friends. One who only does chesed for his friends is truthfully cruel, demonstrating evidence of impurity.


We learn here a very important lesson. In fact, we are responsible for every member of the Jewish nation, regardless of any personal relationship we may or may not have with them.

Giving charity is one of the greatest single merits that one can accrue. We also learn that charity has the power to atone for one’s sins. It even has the power to bring the redemption closer (Bava Basra 10a). We learn from the Talmud (Gittin 7b) that if one’s livelihood is limited, he must nevertheless give tzedakah, how much more so should one give charity if a person has enough money. The great R’ Nachman of Breslov expounds that contrary to the thinking that when one sees his income is meager he might tighten his budget and limit his expenditures, tzedakah has the power to open channels of blessing and help him overcome the obstacles and difficulties he faces in life. The topic of charity is mentioned several times in the Torah to highlight the importance of the mitzvah of tzedakah and to raise our awareness of so many who are pressed for funds and simply do not have enough to survive.

The Talmud (Shabbos 156b) relates that as Shmuel and an astrologer sat together, a group of people passed by them on the way to a lake, and the astrologer remarked, “This person is going but he will not return because a snake will bite him.” Shmuel replied, “If he is a Jew he will go and come back.”

As they continued to sit, the man returned. The astrologer rose, threw the person’s knapsack to the ground and found in it a snake cut in two.

Shmuel asked the man, “What did you do to merit being saved from death?”

The man explained that every day the group would all combine their bread and eat together from the bread. That day he had noticed that one of the men did not have any bread, and he was embarrassed. This man offered to be the one to collect the bread, and when he came to the poor man he pretended to take bread from him as well so that he should not be embarrassed.

“You did a mitzvah,” said Shmuel, “and that’s why you were saved.”

Purim is usually a joyous day of simcha. However, that happiness was momentarily shaken this year when a couple came with their little girl to wish me a happy Purim. They are wonderful people who have experienced some hard knocks in life. They are an extremely poor family. The husband has a menial job with a caterer, and his hours have recently been reduced. The husband waited for some of the company to leave before he asked if he could speak to me privately for a moment concerning an urgent sheilah.

I know that the man is extremely sincere and has often presented important halachic inquiries. I took him into another room and closed the door. With a tear in his eye, and a quavering voice, he said that this year he doesn’t have the money to make a proper Seder. “I’m not sure we will even have enough money for some basic items.” He very much wanted that his little girl should be able to experience Pesach as it should be. “I was thinking of sending her to one of her cousins who, I think, would take her in if I asked. Then she will be able to experience a real Pesach,” he said. “However,” he continued, “I know that one of the important mitzvos on the night of Pesach is ‘v’higadta l’vincha’ – to tell your children the story of yetzias Mitzrayim. If I send her away I will not have that mitzvah and I will not be doing the right thing by my child as her father.”

Then, totally heartbroken, he added, “You know she is our only child. It was a good few years before we were blessed to have her. She is the joy of my life, but I want to do what’s best for her.”

For a moment I was rendered speechless. I thought to myself, “Everyone is singing and dancing this Purim night without a care in the world. Most people ostensibly seem to be doing well. And here are dedicated, deeply pained, parents who are distressed, thinking what their Pesach seder will look like.”

“There is no way your daughter won’t be home with you,” I promised the man. “I will turn to the good people in our community and make sure that you have everything you need for your seder and then some. I give you my word.”

The man’s eyes welled up with tears as he hugged me tightly. As we walked back to join his family and the others whom we had left behind, I could literally feel some of his tension ease.

As I do every year before Pesach, I call on all of our loyal readers and friends of The Jewish Press to help me before yom tov in my undertaking to collect money on behalf of the destitute people in our community. Feel the pain of our brethren and take a part in this great mitzvah. Let us give chizuk to families, individuals, and children in need so that they can celebrate Pesach with dignity.

I personally administer and distribute the monies from the special Yom Tov Fund I have established directly into the hands of those who are most in need.

In the zechus of your contribution may you merit blessing and success, good health, nachas, happiness and prosperity. You may also include the names of anyone in particular who is in need of shalom bayis, shidduchim, refuah, parnassah, etc., and I will say special prayers on their behalf. May we be worthy, with all of our tefillos, to celebrate a good, healthy and joyous Pesach, and may we see an immediate end to the current situation that plagues the world. Amen.

Please send your contribution to Khal Bnei Yitzchok Yom Tov Fund, c/o Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, 1336 E. 21 Street, Brooklyn, NY 11210. Donations can also be Zelled to 718-954-4343.

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Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, a prominent rav and Torah personality, is a daily radio commentator who has authored over a dozen books, and a renowned speaker recognized for his exceptional ability to captivate and inspire audiences worldwide.