I often become startled – if not embarrassed when I find myself around those who hate to give. Pirkei Avot 5:13 teaches us that there are four types of givers. There is one who wishes to give but that others should not. He begrudges others! There is one who believes that others should give, but that he does not have to. He begrudges himself! There is one who gives and believes that others should give too. He is a Chassid (pious person)! Finally there is one who believes that he does not have to give, nor should others. He is wicked! When I find a situation of someone asking for help (especially a person dressed in rags – God forbid) other than considering my own responsibility to give, I find myself reciting this Mishnah. Indeed, the Mishnah is telling us the truth!
Once upon a time, two brothers who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side-by-side, sharing machinery and trading labor and goods as needed without a hitch.
Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference and finally, it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence.
One morning there was a knock on John’s door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter’s toolbox. “I‘m looking for a few days’ work,” he said. “Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there I could help with? Could I help you?”
“Yes,” said the older brother. “I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm.
“That’s my neighbor. In fact, it’s my younger brother! Last week there was a meadow between us. He recently took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I’ll do him one better. See that pile of lumber by the barn? I want you to build me a fence an 8-foot fence — so I won’t need to see his place or his face anymore.”
The carpenter said, “I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post-hole digger and I’ll be able to do a job that pleases you.”
The older brother had to go to town, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day. The carpenter worked hard all that day — measuring, sawing and nailing. About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job.
The farmer’s eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped. There was no fence there at all.
It was a bridge… a bridge that stretched from one side of the creek to the other! A fine piece of work, handrails and all! And the neighbor, his younger brother, was coming toward them, his hand outstretched..
“You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I’ve said and done.”
The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in middle, taking each other’s hand. They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox onto his shoulder.
“No, wait! Stay a few days. I’ve a lot of other projects for you,” said the older brother.
“I’d love to stay on,” the carpenter said, “but I have many more bridges to build.”
The Baal Shem Tov teaches: The 42 journeys of Bnei Yisrael from Egypt to the Land of Israel are a reflection of the 42 journeys that each person experiences throughout their lives…
Rabbi Yekutiel Yehuda Halberstam (1905-1994) – the Rebbe of Klausenberg was one of our generations greatest rabbis. He was known for his exceptional breadth of knowledge of all areas of Torah and his immense level of compassion for others.
Enjoy this wonderful production about the Rebbe – today – Gimmel Tammuz – on his 23rd Yahrtzeit.
The wisest of all men – King Solomon, teaches in his work Mishlei (Proverbs 13:12), “Hope deferred (a drawn out hope) makes the heart sick, but a desire that is realised is a tree of life!” Rashi explains this to refer to to someone who trusts in his friend to help him – but he does not; but when a desire is realised, it is like a tree of life – this refers to God who awaits for the Jewish people to return to Him (through the observance of mitzvot, the study of Torah, acts of goodness and kindness to others etc.) but they don’t return; in the end it brings them to a sickness of the heart; but when His desire is fulfilled, then it is like a tree of life to them!
Friendship. It’s definitely one of the big topics in Torah. It’s a big topic for anyone!
Death! A word that conjures up little feelings of excitement – for most. Life – on the other hand, is the very purpose of existence. That word – when expressed in its most fullest manner, takes on feelings of joy and blessing.
Yesterday, I found myself near the main cemetery in Sanhedria in Jerusalem. Sadly – many are not aware of the nature of this cemetery and the people who are buried there. For the most part, almost every person buried there is a Tzadik – a righteous individual! The cemetery came to prominence in about the year 1948 – that year when a serious war was taking place which would lead to the proclaiming of a country where the Jewish people would feel safe in – a country of their own… but that idea was already in the making more than three thousand years before!