Take care of Hashem’s Four, and He will take care of your Four
“You should give maaser of all the produce of your seed, which comes out from your field, year by year.” (Devarim 14:22)
here are several pesukim in this parshah that teach us an important concept when viewed together. The above pasuk teaches us the mitzvah of tzedakah. Similarly, later in the parshah (15:11) it says: “Open your hand to your brother, to your poor, and to your needy in your land.”
Later this parshah, we also read about a specific mitzvah of simchah, to rejoice before Hashem during the Shalosh Regalim holidays. The pasuk (16:11) lists eight categories of people whom we must include in our rejoicing: your son, daughter, slave, maidservant, the Levi, the ger [the convert], the orphan, and the widow. What can we learn from the way these three particular mitzvos are so close together? (Rabbi Aharon Ziegler)
Seminary is a year to spread your wings in ways you may not have attempted before. As a student, I found so many chesed opportunities in Yerushalayim. Besides the regular chesed hour each week, I found a myriad of opportunities to reach out as I’d never done before.
There was a specific project that was one of my favorites. Together with a group of friends, we’d spend a couple nights a week as part of Yad Eliezer’s program for making chasunahs for those less fortunate. No, we couldn’t “make” the chasunah, but we made it nonetheless. We were the dancing troupe that showed up at these weddings where the bride had no family, and we danced our way through the night, bringing her as much joy as we could muster. It was exhausting but exhilarating, and I cherished those opportunities for simchas kallah.
Rashi, citing Midrash Tanchuma, notes that the latter four types of people are from Hashem’s household, while the first four are from a person’s own household. Hashem is telling us, “If you bring joy to My household, I will bring joy to your household.”
The Gemara (Pesachim 109a) defines “bringing joy” in materialistic terms — providing clothing for the women, meat and wine for the men. This is in addition to the mitzvah of giving tzedakah, which the Torah had already obligated us to do. Therefore, this particular method of rejoicing appears to be unrelated to the mitzvah of tzedakah; it is an integral part of rejoicing itself.
Fast-forward several decades, and we were planning a chasunah for one of my daughters. The zechus of reaching such a milestone was incredible, but there was a shadow cast over the preparations: that of Covid. Most of the engagement was spent in lockdown, and appointments and acquisitions were narrowed down to the basics. The underlying question nagged at us: Would anyone even be able to attend the wedding?
Twenty-four hours before the chasunah, we still hadn’t finalized the venue. Although the number of Covid cases in Israel had dramatically dropped, the laws regarding large gatherings were still not clear. Would my daughter spend this most important night of her life alone, without song and dance surrounding her?
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig suggests, based on the Rambam in the laws of Purim (2:17), that it is preferable to spend more on matanos l’evyonim than on all other mitzvos of the day. The Rambam explains that there is no greater simchah that a person can have than gladdening the hearts of the unfortunate, for doing so allows one to emulate the Shechinah, which is what brings us closer to Him. That is truly the essence of Yom Tov.
What a powerful message. Who doesn’t want the best for one’s own family, in terms of gefen [gimmel, pei, nun]: Gezunt (health), Parnassah (livelihood), and Nachas? Well, the solution is right here: Take care of Hashem’s Four, and He will take care of your Four.
I can’t even begin to describe the amount of Hashgachah pratis that accompanied us the next 24 hours. The arrangements that clicked into place, the issues that fell by the wayside.
But the night of the wedding, I remembered that dancing of long ago. And as I looked at my daughter’s friends surrounding her in a circle of festive dancing, I felt as though Hashem was holding my hand. The dance had come full circle.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 807)
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