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Shabbat Parashat Tetzaveh 5774

Ein Ayah: Adjusting Ones Lot According to His Attitude

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Peiah 9:5-6)

Gemara: Whoever does not need to receive tzedaka and yet he collects does not leave the world until he needs the help of others. And whoever needs to receive tzedaka and does not agree to receive it will not die of old age until he helps support others, as the pasuk says: “Blessed is the person who relies upon Hashem and Hashem is his source of security” (Yirmiya 17:7)


Ein Ayah: Poverty is very needed for humankind, and like other needs of society, Divine Providence sees to it that there are individuals who provide this “commodity” for society. It is very difficult for people to bear the burden of poverty, but this is still the divine decree that people will have to put up with, just as in wartime there are individuals who have to personally pay the “tax” of mortalities that are “levied’ on each nation.

If it is at all possible, Divine Providence will arrange that some of those who are most able to accept the situation of poverty with relatively less severe difficulty will be the ones who are impoverished so that there will be less pain in the world. There are two difficult parts to poverty: the objective challenges of physical deprivation; and the impact on the soul of someone with human pride having to accept donations from others and feeling he is a burden on society. Only one whose spirit is lowly will ask for handouts, which is degrading for most people, when he does not even need it. Apparently such a person is not bothered much by the embarrassment of asking for donations. If so, there is less loss if he has a real need to ask for money in comparison to this happening to a sensitive soul. Therefore, Hashem is likely to arrange for the person who has demonstrated he is not bothered by receiving handouts to actually need to receive them.

In the opposite direction, one who has such a sensitive soul that the emotional element of poverty outweighs the difficulty of being in need, so that he does not ask for a hand-out even when he needs it, is deserving of being in the situation where he has what to give to others. That is because one who is so reluctant to receive from others will be more appreciative of the reward of giving to others. Still sometimes it is necessary for such a sensitive person to experience poverty himself, for example because he may have a nature whereby wealth can cause him to stray from the path of purity. However, when he gets older and reaches an age where his personality changes and he becomes less swayed by the material pleasures and the excitement of possession, the situation changes. He becomes more interested in doing good, as is the divine way, and he is more dependent on Hashem. That is why the pasuk brought to describe such a person is “Hashem will be his source of security.”
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