Purim and Tzedaka
We provide the following true story and insight on the lesson of Tzedaka from the Chofetz Chaimthat we provided earlier — that one should never be upset if the same pauper returns to him time after time; indeed, one should feel as much joy each time as if an important customer were coming to buy more and more goods, since a pauper brings a blessing from Hashem with his every approach!
‘Purim is the most hectic of days for every Jew – how much more so for the great Rosh Yeshivah, and leader of his generation, R’ Chaim Volozhiner. R’ Chaim was besieged all day long by lines of paupers who stretched out their hands for Mattanos L’evyonim. Every poor person received his gift with gratitude and promptly left the Rabbi’s home to run elsewhere for more gifts. But there was one pauper who lingered around the house and then approached R’ Chaim again to ask for another gift.
Often, people become annoyed by this kind of behavior, especially on Purim when they may feel beleaguered by the onslaught of a seemingly endless flow of solicitors.
Not so R’ Chaim Volozhiner. He graciously gave the pauper a second monetary gift and even spent a moment talking to him. The world famous Rov and Rosh Yeshiva asked the poor man if perchance he had a gut vort, a nice Torah idea about Purim to share with him.
The pauper responded, “The Midrash says that Mordechai knew that the heavenly tribunal agreed with Haman’s decree to harm the Jews because they had to be punished for their sins. However, the tribunal has two different ways of sealing its decrees. If the decree is sealed with a seal of blood, it is permanent and can’t be rescinded. If, on the other hand, it is sealed with clay, then there was still a last chance for the Jews to repent and thereby shatter the clay seal. Mordechai was deeply concerned lest the decree was sealed in blood. When he met Eliyahu Hanavi who informed him that the decree was only sealed with clay, Mordechai was overjoyed because there was still hope for the salvation of the Jews.
‘I would like to know, honored Rabbi, whether there is some remez–a hint of this concept on the text of the Megillah itself’.”
Before R. Chaim could reply, the pauper continued and demonstrated a textual source for the derivation of this idea from the Megillas Esther (3:9), where it says “Yikasev Li’Abdam”–it shall be written down to destroy them. The Hebrew word “Li’Abdam”, may be broken into two words to read “Lo B’dam”–not with blood. Simply inserting a space in this word describing Haman’s decree reveals this key fact about the hidden Divine decree.
The next time R’ Chaim visited his Rebbe, the Vilna Gaon, he repeated this vort to him. The Vilna Gaon’s response was, “The very same Eliyahu Hanavi who brought this good news to Mordechai in Shushan many centuries ago, revealed this Scriptural proof to you on Purim.”
This incident teaches us how important it is to be patient with the poor. If R’ Chaim had been impatient with the pauper when he approached him a second time, and had rejected his request, then R’ Chaim would have forfeited his opportunity to have ‘gilui Eliyahu’-a revelation of Eliyahu Hanavi. Beware! You never know who is knocking at the door!’ (from Tuvcha Yabiyu Vol II, p. 278, Tzedakah Treasury p. 256).