Monday, September 1, 2008

More on Chareidi Poverty - A Bracha from the Gerrer Rebbe ZT"L

Last Friday night - Parshat Re'eh - Rabbi Hillel Cooperman, son of Rabbi Yehuda Cooperman of Michlala, spoke at Kehillat Bnei Torah on behalf of Tomchei Shabbos in Har Nof.

He told over that shortly before HaGaon Rav Yechezkel Abramsky, ZT"L passed away, he was graced with a visit from the Gerrer Rebbe, the Bais Yisroel, ZT"L. The Gerrer Rebbe asked him if he would object to hearing a "Chassidishe vordt". Rav Abramsky invited him to proceed. The Gerrer Rebbe said as follows:

The pasuk says (Devarim 15:11):

יא כי לא יחדל אביון מקרב הארץ על כן אנכי מצוך לאמר פתח תפתח את ידך לאחיך לעניך ולאבינך בארצך

...therefore I am commanding you to say - you shall surely open your hand ...

What is the meaning of the word לאמר - to say? To say what? To whom?

The Rebbe explained that the gemara in Bava Basra (9b) says as follows:

ואמר רבי יצחק כל הנותן פרוטה לעני מתברך בשש ברכות והמפייסו בדברים מתברך בי"א ברכות

One who gives a prutah to a pauper is blessed with 6 blessings. And one who soothes him with words is blessed with 11 blessings.

The gemara indicates that it is better to give the pauper encouragement than to give him money. (Most poor people will debate this point. See Tosafot ad loc. What it really means is that it is a second phase to giving charity which has more potency).

The Rebbe continued that it is this point that is being indicated in our pasuk. The pasuk is saying that after I have already commanded you (in the previous pasuk, 15:10) to give charity, there is a second, more sublime phase of giving charity; and that is to say soothing words to the pauper. As such the pasuk says:

I am commanding you to say - to the pauper - thus: in the future, you will be able to surely open your hands to your more unfortunate brother...

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