Forethoughts and Afterthoughts.
Commentary on the weekly Torah reading.
In memory of Father, Yosef Ben Zelig.
March 25th 1911 - May 2nd 2008
In memory of Mother, Nechama Bas Tzvi Hirsh.
June 9th 1925 - April 16th 2003
In memory of Uncle, Moshe Binyamin Ben Tzvi Hirsh.
December 12 1929 - February 2nd 2010
In Loving Memory of Moreinu Horav Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, Rosh HaYeshiva Ner Yisroel
Re’eh (Deuteronomy 11-16)
15:11 For the destitute will not cease from within your land. I therefore command you saying: Open shall you open your hand for (the needs of) your brother, the impoverished, and the destitute that are in your land.
Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah) the prophet was unjustly persecuted. His detractors said, “Let us plot against Yirmiyahu. For the teachings of the Torah will not be lost from (other) priest(s). And counsel (will not be lost) from (other) sage(s). And word(s) (from G-D will not be lost) from (other) prophets. Let us smite him with (false) tongue(s) and we will not give attention to his words (any more)” (Yirmiyahu 18:18).
They appear to be acknowledging that Yirmiyahu served them in the past as a Torah scholar, a sage that gave advice, and a prophet of G-D. However, they claim, Yirmiyahu is replaceable. Whatever benefit he gives us in the future can be provided by other Torah scholars, sages, and prophets. Therefore, they conclude, we therefore have nothing to lose by neutralizing him.
Yirmiyahu responds by listing many dire consequences that will befall these people. He says to G-D in his closing remarks, “They shall be people who stumble before You” (18:23).
The Talmud explains this as follows: From now on, whenever these wicked people give charity, the recipients of their money should be either imposters who are not needy, or they should be wicked people who do not deserve to receive charity (Bava Kama 16b).
There must be a relationship between their evil statements and the consequences that Yirmiyahu spells out. The following came to mind.
All of us are unique, our missions are unique, and so are our actions. If this were not so then it wouldn’t matter who the donor is, as long as the needy receive support. As part of G-D’s design and way of managing human affairs, both the charity donor and the charity recipient are an irreplaceable match.
The act and impact of two donors who give the same amounts to the same cause are as unique as the donors themselves are. It may take until we get to the next world to see this but someday we will realize that nobody is replaceable, no matter how easy it appears be to substitute someone else.
From their words, Yirmiyahu’s detractors were publicly denying this fundamental principle. It is therefore fitting that G-D should find alternate ways for the needy people that they were destined to support and develop from and that they should instead be stuck with recipients for which their acts of charity are wasted.