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An Eternal Escort
Since either money is taken
from the person or he is taken from the money,
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...,
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
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
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.
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
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.
We must internalize that
everyone dies and the wealth is just left for others. (See Tehillim 49:7-12).
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.
It has been said, “A person
acquires wealth and then the wealth acquires the person” (Keser Chochma, 16:8).