18 Tishrei 5782 / Friday, September 24, 2021 | Torah Reading: Sukkot
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The Faithful Trustee    

The Faithful Trustee

There’s no better partner than Hashem; He gives a million dollars to someone and lets him keep $900,000 if that person will give $100,000 to charity…


The Garden of Riches, Part 27

A person with emuna believes that Hashem will provide for all his needs. He comprehends that the money in his possession does not really belong to him. Rather, the money is a safe-deposit in his trust in order to use according to the spirit of the Torah. Surely such a person, just as any faithful trustee, will weigh very carefully what he should do with the money that has been entrusted in his care, in order to use it in accordance with the wishes of the true owner. When Hashem sees that he is a faithful trustee making proper use of the money in his care, He will choose him to serve as a channel for His abundance and mercy. He will entrust more and more money in his care so that it will be distributed properly. The trustee will receive adequate funds for his own family needs and plenty more for charitable endeavors.
Yet if a person lacks emuna and regards himself as the sole owner of the assets in his possession, acting miserly with his money, then Hashem sees that he can’t be a worthy trustee and may very well decide to take His money and deposit it in someone else's hands. Then, the miserly individual starts encountering financial difficulties which are rooted in his very own stinginess.
Just imagine, if Hashem wants to transfer $100,000 to a certain yeshiva, and he has a faithful trustee who has proven himself time and again in giving a complete tithe to that particular yeshiva, Hashem will enable him to earn $1 million that year because He knows that the faithful trustee will transfer the $100,000 to the yeshiva.
Who could be a better partner or employer than Hashem? Hashem is willing to let a person keep $900,000 if that person is a faithful trustee who will give $100,000 to charity. And, if a person is a faithful trustee who gives 20% of his income – a chomesh – Hashem will surely bless him with formidable abundance.
Once, an impoverished individual came to the Apter Rebbe. He wanted his daughter to marry and was therefore in need of a large sum of money. The Rebbe sent him to a wealthy person with a note. In the note the Rebbe instructed the wealthy man to give this poor Jew all the money he needs for a dowry, the wedding, and all the young couple’s needs.
The poor man came to the wealthy one and handed him the note written by the Apter Rebbe. The man read the note and became greatly offended and overcome with wrath. He handed the note back to the poor man and said to him in constrained anger, "Who does your Rebbe think he is? By what right does he command me to give away such a substantial sum? Do I have to listen to him? If he would have asked for a more reasonable sum, and too if he had addressed me in delicate words of appeal, then I would be willing to give. Yet to write to me so curtly for such an enormous sum, as if he was the owner of my money…! Go and tell him that I do not have to heed his words."
Humiliated, the poor man came back to the Rebbe and told him all that the wealthy man had said. The Rebbe sighed and told him to go to the house of one of his pupils and to tell him that the Rebbe commanded him to give him such-and-such a sum. The sum he noted was much less than the sum he had written in the note addressed to the wealthy man.
The poor man then went to the Apter Rebbe's pupil. He saw that this pupil lived in great poverty himself, and it was clear that even the lesser sum he was to ask for was far beyond the means of such an impoverished person. Yet, the poor man felt he had to do as the Rebbe had instructed him to do. So he entered the pupil's home and relayed the Rebbe's message.
As soon as the pupil heard his Rebbe's words, he jumped up and exclaimed in great joy, "Of course! Of course! The Rebbe commands! I will immediately see what I can do. Please, sit and relax, and I will rush to collect the money you need."
The pupil quickly told his wife that the Rebbe had ordered them to give the poor man such-and-such sum in order to marry off his daughter. They spoke between themselves a few minutes and hurriedly decided that the wife would see what she could find in the house that could be sold and in the meanwhile the husband would go around town and ask everyone to contribute what they could to assist in this important mitzvah of assisting a worthy but needy Jewish girl to marry.
Just a couple of hours later, the Rebbe's pupil returned home with a substantial sum of money. Together with the money his wife had managed to raise from selling some silver pieces they had received as gifts at their own wedding, they had collected exactly the amount specified by the Apter Rebbe.
The couple was thrilled to be the Rebbe’s appointees in raising and donating such a sum. Their remarkable generosity and good-heartedness delighted the poor man. Shortly afterwards, he did in fact succeed to collect all the money that was needed for his daughter's marriage.
The luck of the Rebbe's pupil changed quite drastically after this incident. He began to succeed in everything that he did, until he became prosperous. And on the other hand, the business transactions of the rich man who had refused to listen to the Rebbe's words took a turn for the worse, until he lost all his wealth and became a pauper.
His wife said to him, "This is your punishment, for having refused to fulfill the instruction of the Apter Rebbe. And you spoke so rudely against him! You must go to him now. Ask his forgiveness, perhaps he will agree to forgive you and then your livelihood and standing will also be returned to you."
The rich-man-turned-pauper did as his wife advised. He entered the Rebbe's study with shame, but the Rebbe welcomed him warmly and asked him how he could be of help.
"Will you forgive me for insulting your honor?" he asked.
"What insult are you speaking of?" asked the Rebbe.
"That I ignored your order to give that poor man money. Because of that refusal I have been punished and now I too am a pauper."
The Rebbe replied, "This is not a punishment. But you betrayed your duty."
"Duty? What duty?" asked the man in bewilderment.
"I will explain," replied the Rebbe. "Before my neshama descended to this earthly world, the Heavens wanted to endow me with riches, so that I would be an affluent and esteemed man. I refused, because I feared that I would become too preoccupied with all this money and possessions and would not spend my time as I should, with the Torah.
“And I was told: You do not have a choice. You are supposed to descend to this material world with all this wealth. But I too was adamant, refusing to be burdened with such wealth. I insisted that all my desire was to be engaged in the Torah, and I am quite satisfied to have only the bare minimum necessary for survival.
“My refusal was discussed in the heavenly courts, until it was decided that I should choose a neshama to whom my designated wealth would be given to in trust. And I chose you. So actually, all your wealth was mine. And here, the one time I asked for this money, in order to help a poor Jew fulfill the mitzvah of marrying off his daughter, you refused.
“When I saw that you were not a faithful trustee, I then chose my devoted pupil. Seeing just how pleased he was to be instructed to give charity, so sincerely willing to make unimaginable efforts to fulfill my order, I transferred my wealth to him.”
The man was most regretful for what he had done. And so he said, "Rebbe, all my life I have been accustomed to wealth. I have lived a pampered life, and I find the state of poverty is weighing much too heavily upon me. Can I not at least enjoy a bit of livelihood to save me from the shame and hardship of poverty? "
The Rebbe smiled at him. He then sent a message for his faithful pupil to come, and instructed him to give a monthly living stipend to the wealthy man who had indeed lost his fortune.
* One should give charity in joy and good-heartedness.
* Through giving a tithe to charity one is protected from having enemies and merits the good attribute of being satisfied with whatever he has (Likutei Moharan 221).
* Giving a tithe to charity invokes blessings of abundance.
* In the holy book Pri HaEretz it is written (Parshat Re'eh) that when a person gives a tithe to charity because he believes that this will reward him with wealth then in merit of this faith he will surely enjoy an abundance of blessing and prosperity.
* Through the giving of a tithe to charity one merits the good attribute of confidence. 
* A person who does not give a tithe to charity does not "save" anything by this. Inevitably he will lose the money that he should have donated to charity. In the Talmud (Baba Batra): "Rabbi Eliezer said: When the Holy Temple stood, a person would donate his shekel, and be forgiven his transgressions. Now that we no longer have the Holy Temple, then the good is given consequent to the giving of charity, and if one does not give charity then the idol-worshippers come and deprive him of it. He will lose more than the money itself – because the giving of charity serves as a shield and one who refrains from the giving of charity is left without protection from all sorts of dangers.
* Even a poor man should give to charity.
* A person who gives charity to a Torah scholar will be blessed at once.
* Charity is what draws down blessing and abundance from Above.
* Success is given to the one who gives charity to the Tzaddik, for through this charity that enables the distribution of books and the maintenance of the yeshiva institutions, the wisdom of the Tzaddik is revealed in this world.
* Through the giving of charity one becomes a partner in the building of the world, and has a part in supporting the Torah. As is written in Proverbs Chapter 3: "Length of days is in its right hand; in its left hand are riches and honor… It is a tree of life for those who grasp it, and those who draw near it are fortunate"
* The giving of charity is the rectification of all business/financial transactions. For even he who is honest in his business affairs must donate a portion of his revenues, as is instructed in the Shulchan Aruch. A person should contemplate that every business transaction he carries out, is solely for the sake of being able to give to charity.

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