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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 and does good deeds of loving-kindness for others 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 benefit for himself too.
The following story, recorded in Vezos LiYehudah and repeated in Ish Lerei'eihi, illustrates this very important lesson.
In 1948, on the eve of the War of Independence, the Arabs were already shooting at Jewish passersby on the roads and it was not safe to move around outside. People stayed in their homes as much as possible and didn't travel unnecessarily.
One Shabbos, someone visited the home of Rabbi Yehudah Tzadkah ztvk"l, future Rosh Yeshiva of Porat Yosef, and asked him to come to speak at a memorial which was being held at his home in memory of one of his relatives who had passed away. When the Rabbi realized that the home was in sight and in range of the enemy's fire, he asked how he could permit himself to go to such a dangerous place. The petitioner replied, "Everyone Is using that excuse not to go. If you don't come, the service will be cancelled. Personally, I think it is a big mitzvah of zikuy harabim (teaching Torah to the public) to come."
When Rav Tzadkah heard the fellow's argument, and in order to lighten the heart of a widow, he decided to go in spite of the danger, relying on the assurance of the Sages that those who go to perform a mitzvah will not be harmed; both on the way there and on the way back.
When the Rabbi arrived at the home, he found a large group of family members gathered there. He took the opportunity to speak to them at length and strengthen them in their observance of Torah and mitzvahs. When he finished, he returned home and arrived safely and soundly.
A few months later, the war broke out in full force and the army announced a general call up of all eligible fighters; among them, Rav Tzadkah, who was then in his late thirties. The Rabbi went to the Draft Headquarters, which was mobbed with people, and awaited his turn patiently.
Suddenly, a senior officer passed by and was surprised to see Rav Tzadkah sitting there. "What are you doing here?" he asked. "I was drafted," the Rabbi replied. "You? They called you to Army duty? That's not right. You don't belong here." He took the Rabbi into his office and immediately signed a release for him.
The Rabbi was very surprised and did not understand why this officer, whom he did not know, was treating him this way. Finally, he explained. "A few months ago I was in mourning for my father. The family wanted to organize a memorial service for him in his home, but all of the Rabbis refused to come because it was in a dangerous part of town. Only you agreed to come and, when you did, I listened well to everything you said. I had the feeling then that you are a very sincere person who serves Hashem devoutly, for His Name's sake. In my opinion, you fulfill your mission better than many officers in the Army. Therefore, I decided to free you from military service so that you may continue performing your very important duties!"
Shema Yisrael Torah Network