Buick or Porsche

Re’eh

‎Pain can be primarily physical in nature but it creates a mental spin-off, which can be ‎more stressful than the aching bodily symptom. A young boy who falls down and scrapes his knee, is often suffering in ‎greater measure from a bruised ego than a bruised body. It has been my experience when seeing ‎children trip that sometimes the best therapy is to laugh it off as an amusing spectacle, whereas offering what ‎would seem the more appropriate sympathy only serves to exacerbate the hurt. The pain of a slap is ‎tolerable, but the disgrace and disparagement is insufferable. ‎Thus we find the Talmud admonishing one who slaps another Jew:‎

Reb Chanina said, slapping a Jew is tantamount to slapping the Divine Presence (Sanhedrin 58b)‎

For people who have fallen upon hard times and their economic position has taken a downturn, the loss of ‎stature is more difficult to bear than the lack of comfort. When trying to help people who are suffering, ‎alleviating the spirit is more important than the empirical deficiency.‎

Reb Yitzchok said: He who gives a small coin to a poor man obtains six blessings, whereas he who addresses the downtrodden with words of comfort obtains eleven blessings. (Baba Basra ‎‎9b)‎

Moreover the laws of giving charity are structured to remove the heartache and anxiety that comes with losing ‎one’s wealth. ‎

‎”you shall not harden your heart, and you shall not close your hand from your needy brother. Rather, you ‎shall open your hand to him, and you shall lend him sufficient for his needs, which he is lacking”.‎ (Devorim 15:7-8)

Isn’t it obvious that we are meant to provide for his deficiencies; what is the point of informing us ‎that our charity should provide that “which he is lacking”. Rashi, commenting on the verse quotes from the ‎Talmud:  ‎

Even a horse to ride on and a servant to run before him. (If he has been accustomed to such a lifestyle). (Kesubos 67a)‎

This is what is the Torah meant by “which he is lacking”. In addition to providing the indispensable needs ‎and ensuring he has critical funding for survival, we are to restore his previously elevated standard of ‎living. ‎

But isn’t this a tall order? Here I am driving around an old rusty Buick and I have to raise funds so this pauper can ‎drive a deluxe premium Porsche. Yes. If charity is about making sure the poor of the world don’t go hungry ‎you are absolutely right, but Tzedoko isn’t only about averting hunger or about providing a basic standard of living. Rather, Tzedoko is also about providing him with his dignity and removing his mental ‎stress. The rich man who has suffered a severe downturn will not cease agonizing because he can procure ‎his basic necessities. Only with restoration of his prior comforts will his misfortune be alleviated. ‎

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