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Ki Sisa

"The wealthy shall not increase and the destitute shall not decrease from half a shekel -- to give the portion of Hashem, to atone for your souls" (Shemos 30:15).

It is very important for us to realize that when one gives charity, he is not only helping the needy; he is also helping himself. Charity atones for one's sins and protects him/her from tragedy.

The following story, translated and transcribed by Rabbi Baruch Twersky, from the book Kav Hayashar, appears in the Mishpacha magazine.

The great Kabbalist, the Arizal, was teaching the secrets of the Torah to his students. Suddenly, he stopped and told them urgently, "We must immediately give charity to Reb Ya'akov Altrutz, who lives near here. He's crying before Hashem because of his poverty. His cries have broken through all of the partitions of Heaven and gone straight before the Almighty. Now Hashem is angry with the entire city of Tzefas for not having mercy on him. It has just been decreed that a huge swarm of locusts should come here and eat up all the produce, grains, and olive trees. We must send him money at once! Perhaps we can still annul the decree."

The students immediately gave what they could. The Arizal gave the money to his student, Reb Yitzchak Hakohain, who hurried to Reb Ya'akov and found him crying in front of his house.

"Rebby! Why are you crying?" Reb Yitzchak asked.

"My water barrel broke, and I don't have a penny. How can I buy another one? And what shall I do about my terrible poverty?"

Reb Yitzchak gave him the money. Reb Ya'akov was very happy, and blessed him. He returned to the Arizal, who told him that the decree had been annulled.

Even as they spoke, a strong wind blew towards them, carrying a huge swarm of locusts. But the Arizal told his students not to be afraid; the decree was already annulled. And, indeed, the locusts flew towards the Mediterranean, and all of them drowned in the sea. Not one fell upon Eretz Yisroel!

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel