Today a fellow saw me and was concerned that my tefillin was beneath my hairline [it wasn't]. He seemed really bothered and wanted to adjust it and examine my second pair as well.
I appreciated his concern.
What would Reb Yisroel Salanter say????
Are we as concerned with our friend's gashmiyus as we are with his ruchniyus??
Do we see a Yid, stop him and say "Hey, have you had lunch today? Take ten bucks and buy yourself a meal...". I haven't witnessed that too many times. Usually people have to ask and even then... כולי האי ואולי.
I have a friend [this friend is not me... I don't learn much] who has been learning with tremendous devotion and intensity for over 20 years and is raising a huuuge family who asked some of his [religious] relatives for a one time donation for a certain cause of his and was rebuffed. These relatives are not people with millions of dollars but tens of millions of dollars. Not a penny.
THAT causes me anguish. היתכן? Can it be?? Your FLESH AND BLOOD asks [he shouldn't have to ask...] and he is refused. Not even something token? What about his dignity??
I just don't get it.
The Shulchan Aruch says that one must give his relatives FIRST and yet I know people who are destitute whose relatives have their names on buildings. It is CRRRRRRAZZZZZYYYYYY.
The Baal Hatanya says that in these pre-moshiach times, the most important mitzva is tzedaka. Tzedaka, says the gemara, brings the geulah! שמרו משפט ועשו צדקה כי קרובה ישועתי לבוא וצדקתי להגלות.
I must say that whenever I come to the States people are always offering me meals. מי כעמך ישראל. I must ALSO say that Klal Yisrael gives a tremendous amount of tzedaka. But there is still much improvement that can be made.
A Rebbe I know approached me in a Beis Medrash today asking to see Rabbi C. who gives large sums to tzedaka. I told him that Rabbi C. is away in the mountains but he must be mistaken because Rabbi C. is an underpaid maggid shiur. It turn out that I was mistaken. Rabbi C. in fact gives out huge sums to tzedaka. It is often the people without who are most generous.
I am reminded of the stories told about the generosity of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein. He gave everybody, regardless of hashkafa. One person thought that he had a foundation of his own ["foundation" for the uninitiated, is what really - really wealthy people have in order to distribute their funds in a tax friendly way] and asked for a second donation from his own personal funds. A Melamed Torah on a Melamed Torah's salary with a nice sized family of his own is giving out so much that people think that he has a foundation.
THAT is a Yid.
The Satmar Rebbe [very close to Rav Aharon hashkafically:-)] gave out endless sums of money to people who were diametrically opposed to his way of thinking [including secular Jews].
And the countless stories of Tzadikim throughout the generations who gave away every last penny until the community had to give their salary directly to his wife so that there would be something left for them. The logic of these Tzadikim was that they will always have food because they are well known and respected. But what about the less fortunate?
I am not saying that we have to be on that level but it is something to admire.
I feel like I am "preaching to the choir" and everybody [most people?] reading this [does ANYBODY read this??] agrees while the people who need to hear this message aren't reading.
But still -
“...it only takes one voice, at the right pitch, to start an avalanche.”
― Dianna Hardy, Return Of The Wolf