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An Eternal Escort

Written by Rabbi Yehoshua Alt, 16/2/2020

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An Eternal Escort

Since either money is taken from the person or he is taken from the money,[1] one should let his money escort him eternally. To do this, one must give it away for Mitzvos such as charity. In this way we can explain אם כסף תלוה...,[2] when you lend money to the poor, as תלוה can mean to escort as in מלוה מלכה. So, if one wants his money to escort him eternally, he must give it to the poor—...העני עמך, as the Pasuk continues. 


An article dated February 14, 2007 read that the owner of B & H, Herman Schreiber (Satmar Chassid), until 10 years ago lived in a small rented apartment on the third floor. The house he lives in now he bought from a bankrupted, formerly wealthy person who needed the money to get back on his feet. He couldn’t find a buyer because the house was across the street from a wedding hall. In order to help this person out, Schreiber bought his house. When he moved into his new home, Schreiber didn’t buy a single piece of new furniture rather he brought the furniture he had since he got married from his old apartment. He doesn’t own a car nor have a chauffeur rather he travels with public transportation. He flies economy class, wears simple clothing and buys the simplest food. He believes being wealthy is a gift from Hashem and not something to show off with. Where does his money from his 700 million dollar business go? Charity. He says that is what money is made for.[3]      


                There was a wealthy person in Tel Shomron hospital that didn’t have much longer to live. R’ Elya Lopian therefore sent a boy from his Yeshiva in Kfar Chassidim to ask the wealthy person to donate money to the Yeshiva. Reluctantly, the boy went. But to his chagrin, he was shrugged off, being told to return in a week. The boy related back to his Rebbe what happened. A week later, R’ Elya reminded the boy to go again. He went. But by the time the boy arrived at the hospital, the wealthy man already died. The boy then told R’ Elya Lopian what occurred, adding רוח והצלה יעמוד ליהודים ממקום אחר, relief and deliverance will come to us from some other place, meaning Hashem has many emissaries and if we are supposed to get the money we will get it some other way.[4] R’ Lopian replied “I didn’t want his money because the yeshiva needs it. I did it for the person who is a secular Jew who has few זכותים, merits.”


When the Jewish inhabitants of a town in Morocco were captured and put up for sale as slaves, the Abarbanel (1437-1508) gave a nice sum of his own money. He also arranged for the collection of the remaining funds for the remaining ransom.


Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, once went with a group of secular Jewish businessmen to Eretz Yisroel and visited R’ Nosson Tzvi Finkel. R’ Nosson Tzvi asked them if they knew the lesson that should be learned from the Holocaust.  After they each offered answers (it should never happen again, etc.), R’ Nosson Tzvi related that when the Jews were on the cattle cars, they stood packed tightly without any food, drinks or light for hours on end. They endured terrible suffering. When the train stopped, they disembarked in the freezing weather. The Nazis handed out one blanket to every sixth person to share with the other five. The person that received the blanket had the option of keeping the blanket for himself or sharing it with the five others. They chose to share it. So too, he said, turning to the businessmen, you who have the wealth should share[5] the blanket.[6]

Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

[1] Sichas Haran 51.

[2] Shemos 22:24.

[3] We must internalize that everyone dies and the wealth is just left for others. (See Tehillim 49:7-12).

[4] Esther 4:14. The sustenance one receives is not a gift of others’ goodwill rather it is set aside from heaven (Yoma 38b, Rashi s.v. ומשלך). Indeed, one explanation in the redundancy of נתון תתן (Devarim 15:10) is that the money one gives the עני is already decreed from heaven. That is, that money you gave is essentially given. The question is who will have the merit to give it. 

[5] We are taught that Moshe said to the Jewish people ראו קרא ה' בשם בצלאל..., See, Hashem has proclaimed by name, Betzalel… (Shemos 35:30). Where do we see that he was proclaimed by Hashem? R’ Moshe Feinstein (Darash Moshe, Vayakhel, s.v. ראו) explains that when Hashem gives a certain strength to a person, he was given it in order to do the will of Hashem for the Jewish people and honor of Hashem. So everyone saw that Betzalel was declared by Hashem to construct the Mishkan because Hashem filled him with all that was necessary for it (See the Pesukim that follow 35:30). Similarly, whether a person is given wisdom, money and whatever else it is in order to do the will of Hashem. Do you share the talents and wisdom you have?

[6] It has been said, “A person acquires wealth and then the wealth acquires the person” (Keser Chochma, 16:8). 


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