Money, Money, Money by Kevin Beckoff


Throughout Parshat Behar, the commandment to support those who are impoverished appears numerous times.  The Torah instructs that one who becomes impoverished should not be charged interest or overworked; rather, those who are fortunate are to strengthen him.  But why must the Torah instruct us at all regarding how to deal with the poor?  Should it not be obvious that common courtesies are to be extended to the poor?

The answer can be found in a story about the Chafetz Chaim and a particularly poor student of his.  Every time the student visited his great teacher, he would complain about his hardship.  He would then go on to say that if Hashem would only bless him with riches, he would surely donate generous amounts of his money to charity.  In due course, the student was blessed with prosperity, and subsequently turned his attention from his learning to his wealth.  When the Chafetz Chaim visited him, he described to his teacher how the tables had turned for the better and how he now lacked nothing.  This prompted the Chafetz Chaim to inquire as to whether his student had given charity as promised, to which the student did not respond.  The Chafetz Chaim, understanding what had happened, then explained to his student that man constantly runs after money in effort to attain more.  A poor man thinks that if he were rich, he would be the master of his wealth, but if he actually does become rich, it is his money that becomes the master over him.

Many times, people think that if they only had the funds that rich people do, they would use it wisely, but they fail to realize that money overtakes people and has the ability to turn them into misers.  As such, it is quite necessary for the Torah to emphasize our obligation to support anyone who becomes impoverished.

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