This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Mishpatim (5768)
In this week's Torah portion we find 53 commandments and one of them is to loan money, without interest of course, or at least to give charity (which is less honorable) to poor Jews.
But at first glance this is not understood. G-d is infinitely good, possesses all the money and we Jews are His people. So how can there be poor Jews?
We can't say it is so some people can fulfill the commandment of charity. G-d is kind, He wouldn't make the poor suffer just for the benefit of others?
To understand this here is a story. ( Y'dion HaKfar 18 ,1, 07)
A middle aged Jewish woman made her way to the great Tzaddik Rabbi Menasha of Savron with a heart-breaking question.
She and her husband had once been wealthy, their home was open to the poor and their hand was open to every charity but something happened. Little by little they lost everything until they had to live off charity. But she couldn't accept it. How could it be that they, who had been so generous, now were so destitute?
The Rabbi heard her out, gave her a donation told her to be seated and told her the following story.
'Once there was a wealthy businessman who traveled to a distant county to make a business deal. He took his best business manager with him just to make sure he made no mistakes and, of course, a large sum of money in a briefcase.
'The business deal was an almost sure thing and stood to net him huge profits but he had to check it out. So he made his way to the prospective sellers together with his helper and after several hours of discussion they shook hands and agreed that he would return the next day with the money which he had temporarily put in the safe in his room.
'And so it was, the next day he and his helper returned but to his dismay he discovered that somehow he had forgotten the money somewhere on the way there!
'He tried to remember where he last saw it and suddenly realized that he must have left it on a bench in the busy city square where they sat briefly to rest.
'" Gevalt!" He gasped. Immediately his heart filled with despair; there was no chance that that money was still there; Certainly one of the thousands of people that passed by noticed the briefcase and took it. But he quickly snapped out of his evil reverie; such pessimism would get him nowhere! He had to think positively and get back to that bench as soon as possible.
'So, he and his partner ran as fast as possible and in less than an hour were back at the park bench and, miracle of miracles, the briefcase containing the money was there! Untouched!
'He took a look inside, nodded to his assistant and they ran back and finished the deal. But he didn't look pleased. He didn't say a word and every time his assistant said a word of thanks to G-d or expressed joy .. he just smiled half-heartedly and remained silent. It was obvious that he was sad…. Very sad.
'Unexplainably, after that successful deal the rich man's businesses began to fail and within a year he lost all his money, was forced to fire all his workers, his creditors took his home and possessions and he took to begging.
'But his past business manager had better luck; he became a wealthy man and, ironically, several years later the past boss actually appeared at his house with a group of beggars for a handout but the boss didn't recognize him.
'The manager however did recognize his onetime boss and his heart melted with mercy. He took him aside, pressed a large gold coin into the palm of his hand and invited him to be his guest for Shabbat.
'The poor boss, still not recognizing his past employee, thanked him profusely and slipped the coin into his shoe so the other beggars wouldn't see it.. but it didn't help.
'One of them did notice it and later, when they were all in the Mikva preparing for the Shabbat he stole the 'boss's' shoes and pants and ran off before the unfortunate fellow knew what happened leaving him alone, helpless and almost naked.
'That Shabbat night when the 'boss' didn't show up, his past manager began to worry and after a while decided to go out with a few of his servants and search for him.
'After an hour or so they happened to pass by the Mikva and to their surprise heard joyous singing echoing out of the empty building. Sure enough, when they looked inside it was him! The old boss singing and dancing barefooted in his long underwear as though it was his daughter's wedding!
'The manager sent his servants to bring a change of clothes and in a short time they were sitting around his Shabbat table drinking wine and celebrating as the manager revealed his identity.
"'But one thing I don't understand,' he asked the 'boss' . "Why was it that when you found your briefcase filled with money years ago you were sad and now when you lost your shoes and pants you dancing with joy?"
'"Simple" Answered the 'boss'. "There is a wheel of success in the world. Back then when I found that no one had touched the briefcase I realized that I had reached the top of the wheel. It was simply too much to expect that no one would have seen or touched that money in the course of several hours. I had a premonition that from then on things would descend. And they did!
'"But just now when, in addition to being penniless, I lost my shoes and pants, I knew that I had reached the bottom and was about to rise even higher than I was before."
"And," concluded the Tzadik from Savron to the poor woman, "so it was with him and so it will be with you! Your poverty has given you a wider vessel to hold even a bigger blessing and wealth is on the way. Just don't give up."
This answers our question. Rabbi Moses Maimon (Mimonadies ) in the very end of his massive treatise on Jewish law explains that with the arrival of Moshiach there will be no poverty in the world. Rather all creation will be filled with the blessing of the Creator and nothing will be lacking… even in the physical world there will be no disease, famine or war.
But now, in the time of 'exile' when the creation seems to be far and separate from the Creator (to the point that some say there is no Creator!) and spiritual poverty (idolatry etc) is common, there is also physical poverty.
And often the only way to get the riches we deserve is by experiencing the ups and downs of the 'wheel of success'.
( Which is why the Jews are often compared to the moon which waxes and wanes).
Surely we have reached the low point long ago.
Indeed, the Lubavitcher Rebbe said many times that we have finished the last stages of exile and are presently (finally) in the first stages of the ultimate 'redemption'
We just have to 'open our eyes' and do ALL we can, even one more good deed, word or thought to bring true eternal PHYSICAL riches with …
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