Rashi notes a difficulty in the Parashat Mo’adim, the section in Parashat Emor that deals with the holidays. In between the discussion of the laws of the Korbanot of Shavuot and Rosh HaShanah, there is a Pasuk that reviews the laws of gifts to the poor, the Matnot Aniyim. These gifts include Leket, Shichecha, and Peiah, which everyone is obligated to give from his field. However, we are already familiar with Matnot Aniyim from last week’s Parasha, Kedoshim, where the Torah commands us, “UVeKutzrechem Et Ketzir Artzechem Lo Techaleh Pe’at Sadecha LiKtzor VeLeket Ketzirecha Lo Telakeit,” “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap the corner of your field or gather the gleaning of your harvest” (VaYikra 19:9). What message is the Torah teaching by restating this Pasuk while dealing with the Korbanot of the holidays?
The Midrash Torat Kohanim (op. cit.) presents an answer in the name of Rav Avdimi ben Rav Yosef, who says that this Pasuk teaches us that anyone who properly gives Leket, Shichecha, and Peiah to the poor is considered as if he had built the Beit HaMikdash and offered Korbanot within it. Maharal wonders why this blessing is reserved for one who performs the Mitzvot of Leket, Shichecha, and Peiah and not for one who gives Tzedakah regularly as discussed in Parashat Re’eh. Why do Chazal make this comparison only in regards to Matnot Aniyim?
Maharal explains that as long as one gives Tzedakah as a response to the plight of the poor, he isn’t giving because he wishes to fulfill the will of Hashem. Our performance of Mitzvot is governed by the principle of “Gadol HaMetzuvah VeOseh MiMi SheAino Metzuveh VeOseh,” “One who performs Mitzvot because he is commanded to is greater than one who performs them when he is not commanded to” (Kiddushin 31a). Matnot Aniyim, on the other hand, are not given in response to any pleas, but rather are left for the poor to collect. Therefore, this charity is done solely because it is Hashem’s will. Farmers don’t necessarily see the poor, and therefore leave their gifts because Hashem commanded them to do so, and not because they feel compelled to help someone in need. Unlike regular Tzedakah, Matnot Aniyim are completely altruistic in nature, and therefore one who fulfills Matnot Aniyim specifically is likened to one who has offered a Korban to Hashem.
It is surely a great Mitzvah to give Tzedakah when requested to do so. But it is even greater to give it unsolicited out of desire to fulfill Hashem’s will. By engaging all forms of Tzedakah, we can help speed the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash and the reinstitution of Korbanot.