Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Justice, Charity and Illegal Earnings

"Justice, justice shall you seek, that you may live..." [Deut 16:20]

The evil inclination may put the following thought into your head: "He who hates gifts shall live" [Proverbs 15:27]. How can I give a gift to the poor if it means taking his life away?"

The Torah teaches: "You shall surely give to him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing Hashem your G-d will bless you in all your work and in all that you put your hand to" [Deut 15:10] - and through G-d's blessing, you will get back more than you gave.

As our Sages taught "More than the rich do for the poor, the poor do for the rich" [Vayikra Rabbah 34:10]. The money you give the poor is therefore not called a gift.

What if the rich man received his money illegally?   In this case, G-d will not reward him for giving, since G-d  "hates robbery [even] in an offering" (Isaiah 61:8). When the rich man gives to the poor and receives nothing in return, there is a problem of "He who hates gifts shall live".

The verse therefore warns the poor man "Justice, justice shall you seek, that you may live..."

You shall seek and accept charity that comes from just and honest money. Then you shall be counted among those who hate gifts, and you shall live.

Aderet Eliyahu, Shoftim - from the writings of the Ben Ish Hai

No comments: