The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 30 December 2006 / 9 Tevet 5767

The Echo of Lifesaving Charity

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

Charity to the poor as a lifesaver is a theme that spans the centuries.

Back in Talmudic times it saved the life of Rabbi Akiva's daughter. When she was born the astrologers informed her father that the stars indicated that she would die on the day of her wedding. The morning after her wedding she discovered in her room a poisonous snake that she had unknowingly killed with a jewelry pin she had placed near the wall. Her delighted father asked what merit she had to deserve such a lifesaving miracle. She replied that a poor man had come to the door of the wedding hall begging for food but had not been noticed by any of the guests because of the noise of the celebration. She alone heard him and gave him her portion.

In our own times there is a legend about a poor Jew with a large family who somehow managed to acquire two chickens for the holiday meals. A poor woman knocked on the door and cried that her family had nothing to eat. When he complained that all he had was two chickens that would barely supply his family members with tiny portions, she insisted that he give her one of the chickens. As he opened the refrigerator door he found inside his unconscious infant child who had turned blue from cold after entering the fridge that closed on him. The rescue team that quickly arrived and brought the child around told the father that had he opened the fridge a minute latter it would have been too late.

Both cases vindicated the Divine promise that "charity saves from death".

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