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Home :: Pichifkes :: Charity

Charity

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With three things it is possible to change one's life to better and soothe a severe Heavens' sentence, if such was passed:

- Teshuva (sincere repentance - Biblical language translation);

- Tefila (prayer - Biblical language translation);

- Tzedaka (charity - Biblical language translation).

Some add two more things to here:

- change of residence (considered to be changed after thirty days of permanent residence at new place);

- change of name.

Roman governor Turnus Rufus asked rabbi Akiva once:

- If your G-d likes poors that much, why then He doesn't support them?

- Had He destroyed the poverty, rich people would lose the possibility to do Chesed (mercy - Biblical language translation), - rabbi Akiva answered. - And if they don't do charity, then how they will rescue from Gehinom (hell - Biblical language translation)?

It's not occasionally that charity plays so unique and vitally important role in this world. Tora endows it with a great significance, concentrating attention at that repeatedly. But what does that unique significance of charity consist in, as for our daily life?

Midrash explains the one who does charity gets from the one whom he donates to, much more than he gives. Tora even says that the real benefactor is the one who takes the money, and not the one who gives them to him. And here is why.

It's written in Scripture (Tehillim 41:2-3): "Praiseworthy is he who looks after the poor sensibly (he who gives alms to the poor sensibly, that is the way the poor wouldn't feel humiliated - Metzudat David comment), on a day of calamity the L-rd will rescue him. The L-rd will preserve him and keep him alive."

In other words, charity rescues the man not only from hell in the World to Come, but from the death in this world as well. It is able to cancel the most severe sentence passed regarding man by Heavens and even to stop the angel of death. No more no less.

And even swindlers asking for alms - they do a big favour to the one who gives it to them. As rabbi Abahu teaches: "We should be grateful to swindlers asking for alms. If not they, then the one who refuses to do charity when asked about that, would bring upon himself Heavens retribution, according to the verse (Yechezkiel 18:4): The soul that sins, it shall die." In other words, one should be grateful to G-d even for swindlers who can be met among those asking for alms - coz their stretched out hand may "save" our life.

In Midrash David book (RAMBAM's grandson comment to Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Avot) it's written that donations, according to the Sages' words, can be valued differently: some are like gold, some are like silver and some are like copper. Like gold are donations spreaded on the constant basis, independently of life circumstances and anonymously so that not to humiliate the poors. King Solomon said about those donations (Mishlei 21:14): A gift in secret will appease wrath. Zahav (gold - Biblical language translation) word consists from letters זהב, that is abbreviation of words: זה הנותן בסתר - the one who gives in secret. Like silver are those donated only when being ill or at the moment of danger - coz of fear or despair. Such donations don't glorify the one gives them. Kesef (silver - Biblical language translation) word consists from letters כסף - and that is abbreviation of words: כשרואה סכנה פותח - when he sees the danger, he opens (the wallet). Like copper are donations of those who never felt a pity for the poors and, being greedy and envious, never gave donations, but suddenly he felt he's going to die soon and so he bequeathed to members of his family to give donations from the inheritance. And so their price is copper coin. Nechoshet (copper - Biblical language translation) word consists from letters נחשת - and that is abbreviation of words: נאום חולה שיאמר תנו - last words of ill: give out...

Everybody can do a charity so that donations would be like gold. It is independently of sum of one's income and financial possibilities. And this is very easy to do. For that, one needs to daily separate any, even insignificantly small but constant in numeral expression sum of money. It should be done each day, without exceptions. One may do it different ways - putting into money-box, writing down at paper with pen, piling up the banknotes into special wallet section etc. Then, at the end of week, month or simply when meeting the one who asks for alms - one should give him the money accumulated like that. Thus, G-d credits it to man as if he gave donation each day.

However, have in mind that one who gives donation only coz he feels a pity for the beggar - gets reward for that only in this world. But one who gives it coz Hashem commanded so - gets reward in this world and is awarded in the World to Come. That is one should help a neighbor, being guided only by G-d Who commanded so, but not by humanism considerations, one's own feelings or thoughts. And one should have it in mind each time you stretch your hand of help to the beggar.

Midrash says also - ten things were made, one stronger than the other:

- the stone is strong but iron can break it;

- the iron is strong but fire can smelt it;

- the fire is strong but water can extinguish it;

- the water is strong but clouds can transfer it;

- the clouds are strong but air can drive them away;

- the air is strong but human's body can hold it within it;

- the human's body is strong but fear can weaken it;

- however, the death is stronger than all of them;

- but charity is even stronger, for it is able to rescue even from death...

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