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Tzedaka and being Poor

The posuk in this week’s Parsha teaches us that one should not be
poor, as it says, “Efes… bicha evyon.” The Gemara in Shabbos daf kuf
nun alef, amud bais says that Rav Yosef used to say that a young rabbi
does not become poor. The Gemara questions this since we see plenty of
rabbanim that are poor. The Gemara responds that they may be poor, but
they don’t go around collecting tzedaka.

The Chasam Sofer says a rule regarding the above Gemara concerning
poverty and prosperity. He explains that the Gemara says that a Talmid
Chacham is not poor because he does not consider himself poor since he
is happy with his lot in life. The Gemara in Brachos, daf yud zayin,
amud bais says that Reb Chanina ben Dosa had a “kav” of carob and it
was sufficient for him. If a person is happy with whatever he has, as
little as it is, he won’t feel the need to go collecting money. With
this yesod we can understand and reconcile the following two pesukim.
On one hand, it says in the posuk that there will never be a time
where there won’t be poor people. On the other hand, there is a
command that there should not be a poor person among you. The answer
to this is that of course there are poor people, but the people
themselves don’t consider themselves poor hence the stress on the word
“you” in the posuk that a talmid chacham will never feel poor and be
happy with what he has and therefore not go around collecting tzedaka.

The Ohev Yisroel explains the posuk in Hoshea, Perek Yud, posuk yud
bais where the posuk says that we should plant tzedaka. What
connection does planting have with tzedaka? He answers by describing a
person who takes good fruits and good seeds and plants it in the
ground where it rots. Eventually it comes out bigger and better and
produces much more fruit. No one would complain to the farmer and say,
“Why are you ruining good fruit by putting it in the ground?” The
farmer has “emunah” that the fruit will grow and be plentiful. A
person has to look at tzedaka the same way. A person receives money
from Hashem and invests it. He plants it by giving tzedaka. Hashem
then helps him and the money grows exponentially much more.

This is how the Tiferes Yechezkel explains the posuk in this week’s
Parsha, Perek Yud Daled, posuk chof bais, “Give maaser of all your
grain that grows year in and year out.” Give money to tzedaka and
don’t worry that you are losing money. The same way you don’t worry
about losing when you plant, but to the contrary you are really
gaining, so too you are gaining by giving tzedaka!

Let us all be happy with our lot and be able to give to others and not
have to take from others.

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