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From
Simcha Groffman

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Kinder Torah
For parents to share with children at the Shabbos Table

Parashas Re'eh

The Treasurer

"Mr. Nadvan, do you have a few minutes? We would like to have a word with you."

"Yes, of course. Let me just finish putting away my tallis and tefillin."

Mr. Nadvan places his tallis in the bag, zips it up, and walks to the back of the Beis HaKinesses. In the side room the Rabbi and gabbai are waiting for him.

"Shalom aleichem Mr. Nadvan. Thank you for your time. We will be brief. We would like to offer you the position of treasurer of the neighborhood tsedaka fund. The job involves distributing tsedaka money to needy people. The treasurer is not responsible for collection, just distribution."

Mr. Nadvan is very surprised by the offer. He thinks for a moment before he replies.

"I am very flattered by the offer. I would never have considered myself a candidate for such a position. What made the Rav think of me? I have absolutely no experience as a treasurer."

"Mr. Nadvan, we need someone who is scrupulous with other people's money. He must be able to distribute all of the money that is given to him without even thinking of taking or borrowing even a penny for himself. We know that you have vast experience handling other people's money. You are scrupulously honest, and do not withhold any money for any reason. You immediately distribute all money that is not yours."

"This all sounds wonderful, but I am afraid the Rav has the wrong person. I never handled public finds in my life. I have no experience in this field whatsoever."

"Why, Mr. Nadvan, how can you say that? Every Erev Shabbos, after you receive your paycheck, you come directly to me and hand over 10% of the money to the shul's Tomchei Shabbos Fund. I thank you for your generosity and you reply, 'It is not my money, Rabbi. Hashem put His Maaser Kesafim* into my custody to distribute. I am just delivering His money to the proper place.'"

"That is true."

"Mr. Nadvan, you do not see your entire salary check as your money. You see it in its true light - 90% your money, and 10% Hashem's money. You are handling other people's money every week. You are distributing charity all of the time. You are the perfect man for the job!"

The verse states, "Everyone according to what he can give, according to the blessing that Hashem you G-d gives you" (Devarim 16:17). The Shelah has a beautiful explanation of this verse. The words, "shall give" and "blessing" both have the letter "chof" added as a prefix to the beginning of the word. This prefix means "similar to". When a person gives tsedaka, it is not his own gift, rather it is only "similar to" his gift. In what way is it only similar? Because it is really Hashem's gift. It is coming from Hashem's money. The person is just the distributor of Hashem's funds.

Similarly, Hashem's blessings are guided by our input. They do not necessarily come totally from His goodness, regardless of our deeds. We receive blessings that are "similar to" His blessings. We help to determine how much we receive. If we distribute Hashem's funds properly, by giving tsedaka to those who need it, then The Almighty gives us more money to distribute. This is the meaning of the verses, "surely open (your hand)" (Devarim 15:8) and "surely give (tsedaka)" (Devarim 15:10). The more we give, the more we receive. This is the meaning of "similar to" Hashem's blessings, and not Hashem's blessings, because His blessings are guided by our giving.

The Shelah concludes, "A person should place these words upon his heart. When he gives tsedaka, he his not giving his own money. Rather he is distributing the money that has been entrusted to him by Hashem. He should also think that the blessings from above will not come down until there is action taken down below. Therefore, a person should arouse himself to strengthen his observance of the mitzvos of tsedaka."

Kinderlach . . .

The money in our wallets, purses, and bank accounts is not ours. It belongs to Hashem. We are merely caretakers of His money. He trusts that we will do the right thing with His money - distribute the proper amounts to the proper people. (For halachos of tsedaka see Shulchan Auruch Yoreh Deah 247 - 259.) He is watching every penny. If we prove ourselves to be good caretakers, He will put more money in our care. What an honor! What a privilege! We are the Secretary of Hashem's Treasury! Kinderlach, do your jobs well and always give Hashem's money to tsedaka.

*Maaser Kesafim - one tenth of one's income that is given to tsedaka.

A Pure Heart

The end of the parasha recounts the laws of the Shalosh Regalim (Three Pilgrimage Festivals). Nowadays our tefillos (prayers) substitute for the service in the Beis HaMikdash. "Purify our hearts to serve you in truth" is a phrase mentioned in the prayers of these days. We serve Hashem by doing mitzvos. We can have many thoughts on our mind at the time we perform a mitzvah. We ask Hashem to make all of our thoughts and intentions only for the sake of His Holy Name. The mitzvah should be done totally for His sake.

A similar idea is expressed earlier in the parasha. "Do the good and straight (act) in the eyes of Hashem your G-d" (Devarim 12:28). Rashi relates that tov (good) is in eyes of Heaven, and yashar (straight) is in the eyes of man. The Maharal explains that tov refers to something that is intrinsically good, although it may not look that way to the outside world. However, Hashem sees into a person's heart and knows if the act is truly good.

Kinderlach . . .

"A poor person is coming this way, asking for tsedaka. I hope he doesn't see me. Oh well. He saw me. Here he comes." "I'm collecting for . . ." "Okay, okay. You don't have to explain. Here's your tsedaka. Bye." Is that leiv tahor (a pure heart)? Did you do that mitzvah with only the purest intentions? How should we give tsedaka to poor people? With a smile. "Thank you sir, for bringing me a big mitzvah!"

Parasha Questions:

On which days of Pesach are we obligated to eat matza? (Rashi 16:8)

Will there ever be a time when there are no poor people? (15:4, 11 and Rashi)

What do you give a Jewish servant when you free him? (15:13,14)

What happens to loans at the end of the shmitta year? (15:1,2)


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