ד׳ בשבט ה׳תשע״ז (January 31, 2017)

Bava Batra 9a-b: The Importance of Giving Charity

The Gemara on today’s daf continues discussing the theme of tzedaka – charity – that began on yesterday’s daf, by offering a selection of statements made by about the importance and significance of giving charity.

Rav Asi teaches that the commandment to give charity is considered equivalent to all of the other mitzvot in the Torah (based on the passage in Nehemiah 10:33).

Rabbi Elazar teaches that when the Temple stood, a person could bring his shekel as a donation to the Beit HaMikdash and receive forgiveness; since the destruction of the Temple, if people involve themselves with acts of charity all will be well, if not, their enemies will come and take their money by force.

Rabbi Elazar teaches that someone who gives charity in secret (tzedaka be-seter) is greater than Moshe (based on a contrast between Devarim 9:19 and Mishlei 21:14).

Rabbi Yitzhak teaches that someone who gives a coin to a poor person receives six blessings (based on Yeshayahu 58:7-9) while someone who speaks consoles and nicely to him receives eleven blessings (based on the continuation of the text in Yeshayahu, 58:10-12).

Regarding this last teaching, Tosafot suggest that Rabbi Yitzhak does not mean to suggest that someone who consoles a poor person in addition to giving him charity will receive all of these blessings (although it is certainly a good thing to give charity and console), rather even someone who cannot offer charity for one reason or another, will still receive a myriad of blessings if he treats the poor person with respect and offers him words of encouragement. The commentaries note that just as the halakha views causing emotional pain to another person as being more severe than causing him monetary loss, similarly calming and consoling someone in need is viewed as even greater than offering them money.

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