Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Such Thoughts May Lead to Haughtiness

by Rabbi Yisroel Bronstein

''This is the statue of the Torah....'' [Chukat 19:2]

Rashi explains that the subject of the Parah Adumah [red cow] is referred to as ''statute'' [chukah] because this mitzvah ''is a decree [issued] by Me; you have no right to reflect upon it!''  That is, parah adumah is a decree that you may not question.

R' Eliyahu Meisels, the Rav of Lodz, had taken upon himself the task of collecting money for a certain young man in dire straits.

He turned to one of the wealthy, but miserly, men of Lodz to contribute towards the cause.  After much urging on the part of R' Meisels, the wealthy man yielded and gave him a considerable sum for tzedakah.

But then, the wealthy man began boasting about his act of kindness and he spared no effort publicizing what he had done.

The young man who had been the recipient of the tzedakah was humiliated by having his situation made so public.  In his distress, he asked R' Meisels to speak to the wealthy man and request that he cease talking about his act of tzedakah.

The Rav invited the arrogant fellow to his home and rebuked him for the anguish he had caused the young man.  He then added the following thought:  ''In the Torah's passage dealing with the parah adumah, Rashi explains that it is called a ''statute'' because this mitzvah ''is a decree [issued] by Me; you have no right to reflect upon it!''

''The same applies to the mitzvah of tzedakah'' concluded the Rav.  ''Before the person gives tzedakah he must think: It is a decree issued by Me - this is the will of Hashem!  However, once he has given the tzedakah ''you have no right to reflect upon it'' - it is forbidden to give tzedakah and afterwards reflect upon how much he gave and to whom, for such thoughts may lead to haughtiness.''

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