Thursday, March 30, 2023

The Dubno Maggid once solicited a very wealthy individual for a worthy tzedakah. The individual was known for being a kamtzan, a stingy person. The man rejected the Maggid’s request. The Maggid responded to the man that he was destined for a place in the world to come. The wealthy man was astonished. Was the Maggid saying that he would merit the world to come because he refused to give tzedakah? The wealthy man was intrigued and asked the Maggid to explain his reasoning. The Maggid responded with the following mashal:

There was once a wealthy man who was very stingy when giving tzedakah because he was concerned about all of the fraudulent people who may try to collect money from him. He insisted that he would take all of his money with him to the next world, because the next world is a world of truth. He proceeded to instruct his family to put all of his money into his grave when he died. When he passed on and came to the next world, he was told that he had never fulfilled the mitzvah of tzedakah. The man responded that it was true, but explained his reasoning. He insisted that he brought all his money to give to tzedakah in the next world since that world was the world of truth. He explained that he didn’t give tzedakah in our world because there were too many charlatans, and he was concerned that his money wouldn’t truly be used for tzedakah. The Maggid continued that the heavenly court responded that if two more people like this man were found, the judgment would go in his favor and he would have a share in the world to come. The Maggid now explained to the man he was soliciting that the heavenly court found Korach and the man buried with his money, but that he could be the third and thus granted his share in the next world, as a result of refraining from giving tzedakah.

A few months back I had a heartfelt conversation with an individual who had come to shul to solicit our tzedakah fund. The gentleman shared with me as tears welled up in his eyes that he is terribly embarrassed to go from community to community and ask for money. He continued that the embarrassment is compounded when he feels accused of being fraudulent. He asked me if it was fair that because of a few evil imposters, true and honest people are exposed to shame and embarrassment? We are frequently approached in shul and at our doors by individuals who are in dire need. The Torah urges us in Parshat Re’eh to be sympathetic to the solicitor so that they don’t leave us more downtrodden than when they first came to us. While we have every right to choose our tzedakah carefully, we may not turn anyone collecting for themselves away empty handed. Yes, unfortunately there are those who are charlatans, but they are few and far between. As bombarded as we may be, and as uncomfortable and uncertain we may at times feel, we are confident that Hashem sees and values our true intentions. In the merit of our kindness, may we always be the one solicited and not the solicitor.

Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler is rabbi of Congregation AABJ&D in West Orange, NJ. Rabbi Zwickler is also a psychotherapist (LCSW) in private practice.

By Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler

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