Wednesday nights - Rav Benzion's Tanya shiur..........Please continue to daven for the good health of the Rebbe (Yechiel Michel ben Devorah Leah) and Rebbetzin (Feiga bas Sarah).

Monday, May 30, 2011

Bamidbar 5771: Do Not Ignore the Gifts of Others

On Shabbos (Iyar 24, 5771), the Rebbe said the following:

At the end of Parshas Bamidbar, the pasuk (4:20) says, "ולא יבאו לראות כבלע את הקדש ומתו", that the Leviim "should not come and look as the holy [vessels] is insereted (lit. swallowed), lest they die."

The Rebbe recounted the story of the Rebbe Reb Zisha of Anipoli, zy"a, who was frantically trying to raise 3,000 rubles in order to be able to ransom a young chosson. The deadline was in just a few more hours and Reb Zisha had yet to come up with a penny. As fortune would have it, Rebbe Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev, zy"a, (the Kedushas Levi) and Rebbe Shneur Zalman of Liadi, zy"a, (the Baal Hatanya) pulled into town on a wagon. Reb Zisha immedaitelty told them of the mitzva that had come to them and they both agreed to help. The Baal Hatanya, however, had one stupulation, "I will help to collect the money but we must do it my way. Call together the elders of the community."

At the emergency meeting, the Baal Hatanya had them write up a list of all the inhabitants of the city and their approximate net worth. Upon reading the list, the Baal Hatanya pointed to one particular name and said, "We are going to him." The room gasped.

"What is the matter?" asked the Baal Hatanya.

"This man is indeed the wealthiest man in town," came the responce. "But he has never given more than a penny to even the most urgent of causes."

The Baal Hatanya said, "I will help collect the money only if we go to this individual."

The Kedushas Levi and Reb Zisha decided it was worth a shot.

The three tzaddikim arrived at the palatial home of this miserly gevir and the Baal Hatanya knocked on the door. They were ushered in and the gevir received them all warmly and in a fashion befitting the stature of his company. When they stated the purpose of their visit, the gevir went over to a cabinet and opened a drawer. From the drawer he pulled out a key and proceeded to open another drawer from which he withdrew a velvet box, and to the astonished eyes of the tzadikim, he removed a single penny from the elegant case.

"Here you go," said the gevir, handing the penny to the entourage of holy men.

Before the Kedushas Levi or Reb Zishe could say anything, the Baal Hatanya took the penny lovingly in his hand and began to thank the gevir profusely, telling him what a great mitzvah he did and how much nachas he brought Hashem by helping to save the captive chosson.

When they reached the door to leave, the gevir said, "Wait one minute. I would like to contribute something more."

The gevir reached into a drawer and handed the Baal Hatanya a coin of slightly greater value. Again, to the muffled protests of Reb Zisha and the Berditcher, the Baal Hatanya heaped praise upon praise on the miserly gevir.

The scene repeated itself over and over, each time the gevir giving a little bit more and the Baal Hatanya thanking him and telling him what a wonderful thing he did, until they ended up with the entire sum of 3,000 rubles.

After the tzadikim redeemed the chosson, the Rebbe Reb Zisha turned to the Baal Hatanya and demanded an explanation.

"When we looked at the list of names," began the Baal Hatanya, "I saw that even if they combined all their money, there was no way that the townspeople could come up with 3,000 rubles. The only name that had that kind of money was the gevir. It had to be, one way or another, that the salvation would come through him. I found out that this gevir was not always wealthy. He began as a starving peasant who laboriously saved penny after penny until he had enough money to invest and eventually he became a gevir. It isn't that he was a miser by nature. Every time he was approached for tzedaka, he gladly gave that which to him had value: a penny. To him, every penny involved painstaking self-control and denial in order to save and not spend it on a slice of bread. His fortune was made up of many, many years of saving many individual pennies. When he would give his penny, the townspeople, not knowing what was going on, would throw it back in this face. How dare he with such impudence mock every important cause of the community time and time again? When I took his contribution, his sweat and blood were in that penny. I thanked him and told what an awesome mitzvah he was doing, he felt vindicated. He was able to find it within himself to give even more. His potential responded to my kind words and he blossomed." 

When you come to see something holy, something noteworthy in a person, say something positive to them. Do not ignore their gifts. Nurture their potential and it will grow and blossom. If it is ignored that potential will die and the person will be stifled and dried up. Do not swallow up the holiness, the gifts and contribution, for doing so vameisu, will kill them.

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