Parashas Re’eh

In this week’s parashah, the Torah warns (Devarim 15:9): “Beware lest there be a villainous thought in your heart, saying: ‘The seventh year is approaching, the year of remission,’ and you look with ill will upon your destitute brother and you refuse to give to him, so that he cries out against you to Hashem, and it will be a sin upon you.” Last year, we presented some remarks by the Maggid on this verse, taken from the compilation Ohel Yaakov of the Maggid’s Chumash commentaries. We now present some further remarks by the Maggid on this verse, taken from Sefer HaMiddos, Shaar HaSinah, Chapter 14.
After presenting the above warning, the Torah continues (Devarim 15:10): “You shall surely give him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, for it is because of this that Hashem your God blesses you in all your endeavors and in all you set your hand to.” The Maggid explains the idea with a parable. A man sold a plot of land on which there were many houses and other buildings. Among them were some rundown buildings in need of repair. But the seller left on the plot a supply of lumber sufficient to carry out all the repairs. When the buyer first bought the plot, he did not notice that some of the buildings were run down. He assumed that the seller had just gratuitously left him a pile of lumber, and he was very happy over this apparent bonus. Later, he discovered the rundown buildings, and used the lumber for the necessary repairs. Some time afterward, the seller ran into him and asked him whether he was happy with his purchase. The buyer replied: “I just recently noticed that some of the buildings were run down and about to collapse. I used the leftover wood that was sitting on the plot to fix these buildings. I’m disappointed, because I was hoping to sell this extra wood and make some money, but instead I had to use it up.” The seller replied: “I don’t understand why you’re upset. What made you think that I left you a stock of lumber just as a free gift? I knew that some of the buildings were run down, so I left you the wood you would need to fix them. If you hadn’t originally taken pleasure in the wood, naively regarding it as a free gift, you wouldn’t have been disappointed over losing it.”
The parallel is as follows. Some people are very poor, tottering like rundown buildings. In parallel, some people are endowed with extra wealth. The wealthy might assume that their extra wealth is simply a gift from Hashem, granted to them because of their good deeds, and they thus may be led to take pleasure in it. Afterward, when they discover that they have poor neighbors, and they have to give their extra wealth to sustain these downtrodden individuals, they may feel disappointed. The Torah therefore says: “Your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him.” Why not? The Torah explains: “For it is because of this that Hashem your God blesses you in all your endeavors and in all you set your hand to.” The very reason why certain people are given an exceptionally large measure of blessing is in order that they use the extra wealth to sustain the poor. There is thus no cause for disappointment over being called upon to do so.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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