The Torah encourages a person to perform kind deeds in order to be rewarded. That is so that the reward will publicly demonstrate to one and all that the bounty one reaps from his kindness is as predictable as the harvest the farmer gathers from his planting. The philanthropist should train himself to feel that there is no loss involved in tithing – it is all guaranteed gain. It is not merely permissible to look forward to riches as a result of charity, it is an obligation! (Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer, The Tzedakah Treasury, Mesorah:2000)
The crowded bus lurched and swayed through the city streets. David* looked out the window and saw the familiar landmarks of his beloved city passing by, a city of Torah and chessed that he felt privileged to live in. His thoughts turned inward – a place where he did not want to be, because his head was filled with numbers, large numbers – the huge sums he owed to too many gemachim, to friends who now needed the money as badly as he did.
His thoughts turned to his wife and young children at home in their small, crowded apartment. He saw his wife cringing each time the phone rang. She was too embarrassed to answer it any more because she had run out of excuses, and she couldn’t shop in the local stores any longer because the unpaid bills had piled up so high that the storekeepers reluctantly had cut off their credit. Although David had the utmost faith in the Provider of parnassah, he himself was pained and embarrassed that his wife had to endure all this, and he thought sadly that perhaps he just wasn’t meant to continue sitting in kollel and learning. He couldn’t borrow any more money for he would never in a million years be able to pay it back the way things stood. It was likely that his only recourse now was to sell his apartment to pay his debts. With a small sigh, he opened his sefer and lost himself in the holy words.
Three months earlier across an ocean:
Moshe Rubin’s* beard was now snow white, though his face still looked youthful and he retained a cheerful, optimistic outlook on life. A phone call had just reminded him of the days when he had struggled to manage on kollel pay, because that’s how he had supported himself and his family during the years he’d sat and learned in Eretz Yisrael. He remembered the tiny rented apartment, the gemach loans he’d juggled constantly and the way his wife would extend the life of the children’s clothing to last yet another season. How she did it, he still didn’t know.
Wondrously, however, each time there’d been genuine need, Hashem in one way or another provided a shaliach who’d offered support or helped in exactly the right proportion. Moshe remembered, too, the yearning that accompanied his sacrifices throughout all those years to be able, some day, to be on the giving side of chessed.
Well, that day arrived when Moshe’s wealthy uncle passed away and Moshe found himself an heir to a substantial sum of money. Moshe set about implementing his longing, and distributed maaser from the inheritance to charitable institutions and worthy causes. He also wanted to do more than that. He wanted to be able to offer a really large loan on favorable terms to a worthy and needy individual, to whom it might make a lifesaving difference.
Moshe, of course, had his own large family to consider, and he wondered what he would do if, chas vechallila, the worthy individual would be unable to pay back the loan. After all, he and his married children were still living in rented apartments, he still had children to marry off and he was not getting younger. So, although he could afford to take the risk of making such a loan and supposed that the borrower would have a reliable guarantor, Moshe hesitated. His conscience bothered him, though, because he knew what it means to be on the needy side of the equation, and he finally resolved to offer a long-term loan to the next person he heard about who was in serious debt. At this point he hadn’t yet heard about David.
Moshe heard that his rebbi and mentor, Rav Cohen* was in failing health and his family was having a hard time. Medical expenses had exhausted all the family’s personal funds and there were no gemachim left that they hadn’t turned to. The Cohens needed a very large sum of money. Moshe’s heart went out to his rebbi, but his two yetzers carried on a raging debate within him about making the loan. Should he, shouldn’t he? Could he couldn’t he?
Finally, Moshe realized that he had to settle this inner battle one way or the other and, in the face of his fears and trepidations, he strengthened his resolve and made a commitment to loan the money to the Cohen family. He went to his bank and nervously ordered the transfer of the money.
The loan, baruch Hashem, accomplished its purpose. Rav Cohen’s family was able to care for their ailing parent without the specter of debt overwhelming them. As for Moshe, the day after he transferred the money and before he started to worry about the significant hole the loan had made in his bank account, Moshe noticed that his stock-market shares began to increase in value. In just six weeks, Moshe’s holdings increased in an amount equal to the size of the loan! After that, the stocks remained stable without any unusual fluctuation, unlike Moshe’s emunah, which now took a sharp rise, and kept rising.
Three months after this inexplicable event, a close relative of David’s told Moshe of David’s plight and asked if Moshe could help out with even a small amount. Moshe asked a few questions and soon understood that David required a bit more than a few hundred dollars to avoid having to sell his home. Again, in a quiet moment, Moshe sat down and battled with himself, wondering whether to give or not to give, whether to worry about getting repaid or left in the lurch. Moshe reminded himself of the chazal that says charitable loans have the most dependable Co-signer in the world, as he had already been privy to see.
Moshe made arrangements through the mutual relative, a Rav, to have David sign a loan agreement and turned over the money to the Rav.
David got off the bus and plodded slowly homeward. His wife, holding the hand of their youngest child, was half-running toward him breathlessly, trying incoherently to tell him something.
“Hurry, David, hurry home. There’s a phone call … Rabbi Levi* … something about a loan, a large loan … your cousin in America … he’s holding on … go answer the phone…”
David raced up the stairs and picked up the phone. Rabbi Levi explained briefly that a friend of his had called from the States. His friend was David’s cousin, who had arranged with an unknown donor to loan David a really large sum of money on easy terms and asked when David could come to his house to sign the loan agreement.
“I’ll be right over,” he gasped.
Once again, Moshe saw the workings of hashgachah clearly. About a week after David signed the loan agreement, Moshe’s brother called him with good news. It seemed there was more to the inheritance they had recently received from their uncle. The accountant and lawyer for the estate had withheld a large amount in reserve to cover taxes and other expenses. When all the outstanding charges were paid, the remainder of the reserve could be paid out to the heirs almost immediately.
Moshe’s share (you’ve probably guessed it) was equal to the amount of his loan to David. Hodu laShem ki tov! This really happened.
*Names have been changed
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