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"Speak to the Children of Israel and let them take for Me a portion; from every man whose heart motivates him you shall take My portion" (Shemos 25:22).

The Commentators ask, why does the Torah say "let them take for Me a portion" rather than "let them give for Me a portion?" They answer that this comes to teach us that one who gives charity will find, in the end, that he will actually benefit from the act himself. Therefore, in effect, he is not merely giving to others but actually taking profit for himself too.

The Gemara (Bava Basra 10a) relates that once, on the eve following Yom Kippur, Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai dreamed that his nephews would lose seven hundred dinarim that year. Throughout the year he forced them to give money to charity and he kept a record of it. By the year's end, they had contributed seventeen dinarim short of seven hundred. On the following erev (day before) Yom Kippur, they were arrested. He told them not to worry for they will only be taxed seventeen dinarim. Later, they asked him how he had known and he revealed to them his dream and explained that the money they had given to charity had been in place of the loss they would have sustained. This way, however, they also benefited from the great mitzvah of giving charity to the poor.

The Holy Tzaddik, Reb Moshe Mordechai Biderman, the Leliver Rebbe ztvk"l, was a renowned miracle worker. Many received spiritual and material salvation as a result of his blessings. Sometimes his actions were not understood, but everyone trusted him completely.

One Purim, at his tisch (lit. table - the place of feasting and celebrating the holy day), all of the chassidim sang holiday songs and listened to his words of Torah. At a certain point in the festivities, the gabbai (person in charge) announced the names of those who instructed him to place a bottle of wine on the table. This is a procedure which costs the person more than the actual price of the bottle, since the proceeds go to charity.

After one chassid placed a bottle on the table, the Rebbe called him to him and, atypically, told him to place another one. Of course, the chassid immediately did as he was told. But the Rebbe was not satisfied and told his follower to give him a large amount of money for charity. When the surprised man explained that he did not have that much money with him, the Rebbe told him to borrow from friends and bring him the specified amount immediately. The fellow did as he was instructed but found the entire incident very strange and unusual.

Some time after Purim, this man's wife became ill and was taken to the hospital. The tests revealed that she was very sick and the doctors' prognosis was very pessimistic. Brokenhearted, the chassid ran to the Rebbe and, crying profusely, begged his blessing. The Rebbe smiled and encouraged his loyal student. "Do not worry," he told him. "Everything will be fine," he assured him. "Do you remember on Purim when I insisted that you give me a very big sum of money to distribute to charity - much more than you could afford? With that tzedakah we were able to annul the evil decree which was to befall upon your wife, G-d forbid. Now, everything will be fine; I promise."

With a happy heart, the husband returned to the hospital where the doctors were already waiting to tell him the good news that everything was ok and that his wife would soon be returning home, a healthy woman.

May the Rebbe's memory be a blessing to us all.

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel