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You shall do what is fair and good in the eyes of Hashem, so that it will be good for you, and you shall come and possess the good Land that Hashem swore to your forefathers (Devarim 6:18).The Ramban zt"l explains that this is a general mitzvah. Since it is not feasible for the Torah to specify every possible situation and instruct us how to react, Hashem gave us some examples and told us to love our fellowman; to help him when he is in need; not to take interest on our loans to him; to support him before he falls, etc. In this passage, the Torah sums it all up in one general rule: "You shall do what is fair and good in the eyes of Hashem." In our vernacular, this would read: Try to be a really nice guy and do the best you possible can to make your friend's life easier.
Every Jew is commanded to practice this mitzvah, but, as usual, the leaders of the generation serve as models for us to emulate. Some give their supplicants their blessings; some give them practical advice and some even extend their hand in actual help.
This coming week, on the 18th of Menachem Av, will be the 35th anniversary of the passing of my dear father-in-law, Moshe Silberberg a"h. At his request, I brought him to be buried in Israel. When I met with the representatives of the Burial Society in Jerusalem, they convinced me to let them bury him in the section of Har Hazeisim (the Mount of Olives) designated for people from Poland, his birthplace. Space was scarce in this precious section and the price of two graves (my mother-in-law, may she be well, asked that I purchase a plot for her too) was enormous. We phoned her in Philadelphia, where she was sitting shiv'ah, and in the emotion of the moment she agreed to the price. However, later, as reality began to settle in, she realized that the yoke of supporting the family had now fallen upon her and she really could not afford to pay the exorbitant amount the burial society was asking her for.
I began to negotiate with the society to lower the price but they wouldn't hear of it. Israelis, in general, believe that all Americans are rich and, besides, they argued, we had asked her before the deal had been consummated and she had consented. They didn't agree that she had made the decision out of emotion, in a moment of tremendous stress, and was not responsible for her words. Even a decision which I brought from HaGaon Harav Moshe Feinstein, ztvk"l, that they should lower the price for a poor, unfortunate widow, had no effect on them (as the Sage had predicted).
Finally, Reb Shalom Shvadron zt"l came up with an idea. Since one of the heads of the Society was a Gerrer chasid (a follower of the Rebbe of Gur ztvk"l), he would go with me to the Beis Yisroel (as he was known) and ask him to intervene. In Gur they don't speak much and so after Reb Shalom told him, in short, what the situation was and how much the Society was requesting, the Rebbe commented, "tzi fill" - too much. Reb Shalom suggested that the Rebbe speak to his chasid, who would surely obey his command, and the Rebbe agreed. A short while later, my mother-in-law received a letter saying that she should pay whatever she could afford. She did not take advantage of the situation but gave them a fair price according to her means.
Many years later, after the Beis Yisroel and his successor, his brother the Lev Simchah passed away, their younger brother, the P'nei Menachem became Rebbe. The following fantastic story is related by Harav Yitzchak Zilbershtein shlita, in his wonderful book, Aleynu Lishabeach.
A young man owned an apartment in Jerusalem. After a while, his financial situation deteriorated and he found himself in debt. One day he analyzed his situation and came to the conclusion that he would be better off if he sold his apartment and rented one instead. He wanted to rent in an area where apartments were cheap and he found what he was looking for in the Holy City of Tzefas.
After living there for quite a while, the landlord suddenly informed the young man that as of next month, the rent for the apartment would be doubled! He explained that someone had offered him that amount and, as much as he wanted to accommodate the young man, he didn't think that he had to suffer such a great loss because of him.
The young man was devastated. He knew that there was no way he could pay the new price and he would probably have to move his whole family again. On the other hand, he understood the landlord who surely did not have to refuse such a tempting offer. Nevertheless, he decided to ask for outside help.
The landlord, too, was a Gerrer chasid, and the young man, too, decided to discuss the matter with him, although he had no idea how he could possibly help.
The Rebbe greeted the fellow with the genuine love with which he greeted every Jew; whether or not he was one of his followers. When he heard the young man's plight, he assured him that he need not worry. Everything would turn out fine. The Rebbe neither offered his blessing nor gave advice, but he was so convincing that the fellow went home with a light heart; believing that somehow everything would really straighten out, although he could not fathom how.
Next month came quickly and the tenant dreaded the day he would have to face his landlord and pay the rent. He prepared a check with the regular amount and, to his surprise, the landlord accepted it without saying a word about the raise he had requested. The tenant too did not mention it but went home overjoyed. This scene repeated itself, month after month. Finally, after half a year, the tenant's curiosity got the best of him and the young man asked the landlord how come he had apparently dropped his demand for a very large raise in rent. The landlord replied that he himself doesn't really understand what had happened. "From the time I spoke to you about a raise, I've been receiving monthly checks, signed by the Gerrer Rebbe himself, for the exact amount I had requested you to add to your rent! Since I am receiving, from Heaven, what I had hoped for, I don't think it's fair to ask you to give me more too."
Shema Yisrael Torah Network