the DNA of our brothers and sisters

Friday, 19 February, 2021 - 5:37 am

In almost every Shul in the world there are “Meshulachim” who appear every morning. These are precious Jews, who have been forced to travel around and ask for donations. Some are collecting for their own personal needs, and others for yeshivas or other Torah institutions.

A few years ago I overheard a conversation between two people in the Shul in Basel. One approached the other, and, pointing to a Meshulach who was standing there, showing a letter and collecting money, said, “I’m not going to give anything to this one! I simply don’t believe him. I examined his letter, and the facts stated in it are untrue.” But his friend responded, “I actually will give him.” “But why?” asked the first. “He’s lying, after all!” His friend smiled and said, “He’s lying to you, but not to me. Because for the few coins that you were planning to give him, you examined his letter closely. I didn’t examine the letter at all. He held out his hand, and I simply gave him some money.”

I was moved by what I had heard. It was so Jewish in my eyes. It was one of those moments when you feel honored to be part of this nation.

In Parashat Terumah, Hashem asks Moshe to take and accept donations for the Mishkan (Tabernacle) from everyone: “From every man whose heart motivates him”. With this, Hashem imprinted in this nation’s DNA both sides of the coin. On one hand, there are those whose role is to take, in other words, to ensure the raising of the necessary funds for the goal they are in charge of, and on the other hand, there are those whose role is to give whatever their hearts motivate them to give – to various charitable causes.

Sometimes we run the risk of forgetting that Hashem created the world in this way, so that the giver can do an act of loving-kindness. In other words, the person accepting Tzedakah (charity) from us is providing us with the opportunity to perform an act of loving-kindness.

In the Midrash Rabba it says, “[King] David said: Master of the World! Make [the people of] Your world equal, as it says, ‘May he sit (sit – Yeshev; be equal – Yishveh) forever before God’. Hashem answered him, if I make the people in my world equal, how will Chesed (loving-kindness) and truth be demonstrated?”

In simple terms: If everyone in the world will be equal, there will be no opportunity for anyone to be kind to another.

It is no secret that as part of my job as head of the Chabad House, I must raise funds, since the Chabad House survives on donations alone. When Parashat Terumah comes around every year, I can bear witness to the fact that the Master of the Universe succeeded: the DNA of our brothers and sisters, the Jewish People, contain both sides of the coin – the givers and the receivers, and usually it is also done caringly and kindly.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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