The story is told of a frugal gentlemen who passed away and was called to task by the Heavenly Court for not having given adequate charity. Before he was to begin receiving his punishment, he pleaded “Give me my checkbook! I will write as many checks as you want me to!” The ministering Angel responded “Here, we do not take checks. We only take receipts.”
In the masterful work _[u]The Tzedaka Treasury[/u]_ by HaRav Avraham Chaim Feuer, Shlita (Artscroll), the great Rosh Yeshiva, HaRav Shimon Shkop, Z’TL, is quoted to have said that every generation has its stellar, or most appropriate, middah. In the generation preceding Moshiach, that middah will be Chesed, as is evidenced by the conclusion by the first bracha of Shemone Esrei. In the first bracha, our forefathers, Avraham, Yitzchok, and Yaakov, are each mentioned, but the bracha concludes only with Avraham--whose middah was Chesed.
This teaches us that, in the end, it will be Chesed that brings us to our happy conclusion. As Rav Feuer beautifully puts it, the world around us today is an unprecedented self-centered culture dedicated to self-gratification. Our response, our reaction, must be to practice kindness in a likewise unprecedented way. This will then bring us, and the world, over the top.
We simply do not properly appreciate the value of each and every act of Chesed we perform in our times. In this week’s Parsha (Devorim 15:10), the Torah teaches: “You shall surely give him, and let your heart not feel bad when you give him, for in return for this matter, Hashem your G-d will bless you in all your deeds and your every undertaking.” Is there any way we can compare the blessing of the head of state, a medical doctor, or, l’havdil, even the greatest Rav in the world, to the blessing of Hashem Himself?! Here, the Posuk teaches, that not only will Hashem bless you, but that He will bless you in **ALL** your deeds and **ALL** your undertakings. (Of course, we do not know or fathom each and every one of Hashem’s blessings to or upon us--but we do know that the Posuk is true to its word!) To bring the significance of the blessing home, the Dubno Maggid brings the following Mashal:
A man while walking down the street, lost 100 gold coins. Overnight, he was extremely disheartened. The next morning, while walking down another street, he found 200 gold coins. His joy was marred by his awareness that had he not lost the first 100 coins, he would have now been the proud owner of 300 gold coins. A second man, while walking across an open area with a bag of seeds, slipped and fell. The bag of seeds ripped, and the seeds scattered far and wide. For quite some time, he was upset over his loss. Several months later, he passed by the spot where he fell, and realized that the entire area was full of grown stalks of wheat. His original “loss” was not a loss at all!!! It took a little longer, but he would reap significant profit for a very long time to come.
Acts of charity and kindness are especially important for us now, as we view the world situation, as we arrive at the gates of Elul, and as we so very much want Hashem’s blessings to and upon our actions. We should devote at least a little bit of time over the coming weeks to study their laws and applications in the Shulchan Aruch, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Ahavas Chesed (by the Chofetz Chaim), and in more recent masterful English works such as _[u]The Tzedaka Treasury[/u]_ and _[u]The Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser: A Comprehensive Guide[/u]_ by Rabbi Shimon Taub, Shlita (Artscroll). If we know what to do and how to do it, we will be blessed by the Source of All Blessings--now and for eternity.
Reprinted with permission from Hakhel MIS