Simcha's Torah Stories - Re'eh
Did you figure out the answer to the teacherís question yet Chaim?
Which question are you referring to, Avi?
The one about charity.
Hmmm. I donít remember the question so clearly Avi. Could you remind me what he said?
Sure. Imagine that you had one hundred dollars to give to charity. Is it better to give the entire sum to one poor person, or give one dollar each to one hundred poor people?
Now I remember the question. Letís think about this a minute. If you give to one hundred poor people, you are helping one hundred people. Thatís a lot better than helping just one person.
Thatís true, Chaim, but how much are you really helping each person? One dollar isnít very much. On the other hand, if you give the whole one hundred dollars to one poor person, you are really giving him a big helping hand.
You have a good point, Avi. So do I. Each answer has its advantage and disadvantage.
Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan, the premier Jewish scholar of his generation, who is known to us as the Chofetz Chaim, has a different angle on this question. He focuses on what is better for the giver of the charity, not the receiver. If you look in this weekís Torah portion (Devarim 15:10) you will see that the verse repeats the word "give" twice when instructing us to give charity to the poor. Rashi comments that the Torah repeats the word to teach us that as long as the poor remain needy we must give to them. Even one hundred times.
Iím not following you, Avi. What difference does it make to the giver how many times he gives? Itís the same amount of money in either case.
Thatís true, Chaim. However, imagine yourself as the giver. A man comes to you to ask for charity. You give to him. He returns the next day. You give again. This continues for a week. Then another week. And another week. After a while you begin to think, "Canít this man get a job? Why does he keep coming back to me?" However, the Torah instructs you to give. Therefore, you keep giving. Each time that you give, it gets a little easier. You take one mores step towards overcoming your inclination to ignore the poor person. After one hundred times, the giving becomes second nature to you. You have become a generous person. You would never accomplish this by writing one check for one hundred dollars. One hundred acts of giving make a much bigger impression upon a person than a single moment of generosity.
I see Avi. Itís like exercise in a way. Daily training is much more beneficial to you than one massive workout.
Now youíre getting the hang of it Chaim. The Torah wants you to develop your "giving" muscles. Therefore, you have to exercise them regularly.
Youíve changed my whole attitude towards charity, Avi. Each person that comes asking for charity is another opportunity for me to get some exercise.
Chaim, youíre really getting into shape. Keep up the repetitions!
A bank customer had $100 in his account. He then made six withdrawals, totaling $100. He kept a record of these withdrawals, and the balance remaining in the account, as follows:
Answer to Last Week's Question
You are ill and travelling down a road to the hospital. You reach a fork in the road and find a pair of identical twin boys standing there. One of the twins always tells the truth and the other twin always lies. You are allowed to direct only one question to one of the twins, and as such you will be assured of the correct road to the hospital. What is your question and to whom? The Answer!
You ask either of the twins "If I asked your twin which path to take to get to the hospital, which way would he tell me to go?" Then take the opposite path of the one you are told. Because:
- If you are talking to the truth telling twin, then he will tell me what his twin would say, which would be a lie. So the direction indicated would be wrong.
- If you are talking to the lying twin, then he would lie about what his twin would say, which would be the truth. So the lying twin would still indicate the wrong path.
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