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"It's great to come home after a long trip."
"It looks like the lights are on in the guest cottage. Do you think that someone is in there?"
"Let's check it out."
The husband and wife knock on the door of their guest cottage. A short, well-dressed man answers.
"Shalom." "Shalom to you, my friend. We are the owners of this cottage."
"Shalom aleichem. My name is Nehena. You are probably wondering why I am here. I am traveling on business and need a place to stay. When I came to town, I asked around about a guest room. I was told that you have a cottage. I came, found the accommodations very nice, and decided to stay."
"My good friend Mr. Nehena, I am very happy that you have enjoyed yourself. It is actually good that our property was occupied while we were gone. You may stay as long as you like, however, you must pay rent for the days that you have been here."
"Do you normally charge rent for this cottage?"
"Then how can you expect me to pay? I did not cause you to lose any rent money."
"Do you normally pay for accommodations on a business trip?"
"Then how can you expect to stay for free? You received a room that you were prepared to pay for."
The question is:
Can they now charge Mr. Nehena rent for the days he has stayed?
The answer is:
The Gemora (Bava Kamma 20a,b) deals with this subject. It is called, "One has benefit from someone without causing him any loss." The guest has received benefit - free accommodations that he was prepared to pay for. The owner has not lost anything because he never collects rent for the cottage. The Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 363:6 rules that if the owner is not opposed to the guest staying, he cannot charge rent. Giving benefit without incurring a loss does not obligate the receiver of the benefit to pay. Additionally, the owner is happy because the property is occupied.
This puzzle and answer is for learning and discussion purposes only. Do not rely upon it for psak halacha! Consult a Rav to determine the correct halachic ruling.
"The sons of Kehas shall come to carry (the Aron Kodesh and kelim)" (Bamidbar 4:15). The avodah of the Bnei Kehas was carrying the Aron Kodesh on their shoulders when the nation traveled from place to place (Bamidbar 7:9). The other parts of the Mishkan were transported on wagons. However, the Aron Kodesh, due to its great holiness, was carried on the shoulders of these Leviim. The Gemora (Sota 35a) relates an awesome miracle that occurred. The bearers of the Aron never felt its great weight. They did not carry it, rather it carried them! In the days of Yehoshua, it even carried them across the Jordan River (Yehoshua 4:18).
There is a beautiful drasha based upon this Gemora. Talmidei Chachomim and institutions of Torah learning are supported by generous donors who contribute money to pay for expenses. It appears that the benefactors are supporting the Torah, however, in reality; the Torah is supporting its benefactors. The following moving story dramatizes this point.
The residents of a certain small town in Europe came to Rav Yitzchak Elchonon Spector zt"l, the famed Rav of Kovna, to find a suitable candidate for the position of Rav of their town. Rav Yitzchak Elchonon recommended a certain young talmid chochom who was fit for the position. The people approached the young man with their offer. "I am ready to accept the job," he replied. "However, my father-in-law is supporting me, and I must ask his permission to leave." The young man related the proposal to his father-in-law and received the following reply. "Why do you need this? Do you need more money? If so, I will give you more money each month, on condition that you remain here with me." And so, the young man turned down the position and stayed.
One year later, representatives from a city came to Rav Spector for a candidate to fill the position of Rav. The Rav of Kovna sent them to the very same young talmid chochom. Again, he asked permission from his father-in-law, received the same answer, and continued learning in his town.
After some time, a contingent from a large major city came to Rav Yitzchak Elchonon, seeking a man to fill the prominent position of Rav of their city. Again, Rav Spector sent them to this same young man. When this prestigious contingent came to the home with the offer of the Rabbonus in their hands, the wife of the talmid chochom could not keep silent. "This time I will not give in to my father. He must agree to let us go!" Her husband asked his father-in-law, and received the same answer. The wife answered her father, "How long can you support us? The time has come for us to go out on our own." The father replied with a short answer, "Who knows who is supporting whom?" Several weeks later, the young couple finished packing their belongings, boarded the moving wagon, and began their journey to the big city. No sooner had they left the outskirts of the town, that they were overtaken by a messenger who brought them the shocking news. "Your father just passed away." *
Kinderlach . . .
Who is supporting whom? Torah institutions are like the Aron Kodesh. When we give tsedaka to a Yeshiva or Talmud Torah, are we supporting the institution, or is it supporting us? Hashem decides if a Torah institution will continue existing. You decide whether you will be His shaliach (agent) to keep the light of Torah burning. If you help Him (so to speak), He will reward you by supporting you. Who is supporting whom? The Aron carries those who carry it.
*This story is from Moreshes Avos - Devarim p. 75.
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