Friday, August 10, 2018





Rav Mottel Weinberg zt’l, the beloved Montreal Rosh Yeshiva, would join his Yeshiva for the summer in Camp Harim in the Catskills Mountains. Rav Weinberg developed a close relationship with Rav Yankel Horowitz, the Rosh Yeshiva of Bais Meir, who also spent his summers there.
Rav Mottel would get dressed early on Friday afternoon, and would learn in the Bais Medrash until Shabbos began.
One Friday the two Roshei Yeshiva met and were conversing outside the Bais Medrash. Suddenly two bochurim ran by, engaged in a water fight, oblivious to their surroundings. As one of them rounded a tree, he unwittingly sprayed Rav Mottel with water. The bochur was paralyzed from shame, and stood silently not knowing what to do with himself. Dripping with water, Rav Mottel smiled and said, “What can I do? The Gemara says that one who damages on Erev Shabbos is exempt, because he has a right to be in a rush before Shabbos.”[1]

Anyone who has ever attended or worked in an overnight camp knows how important visiting day is. For the camp it’s an opportunity to show off the camp to parents and grandparents, for campers it’s a chance to show their parents why they love camp, and staff are excited to receive tips from their camper’s parents, as an added bonus for all of their hard work. For that reason, they call it Palm Sunday.
Each summer, during the days prior to visiting day in Camp Dora Golding, the lifeguards chant at meals “tip your lifeguard”. It’s a not-so-subtle-reminder that campers should remind their parents to include the lifeguards when they give tips. (Tact is not one of their strong points.)
In response, I often announce to the campers that the next time they are boating on the lake and see a lifeguard on a boat out there, they should make sure to tip the boat over, as per their request.

After six years of servitude, the Torah requires a Jewish slave to be set free. The Torah adds that when he is released, ”...You shall not send him empty-handed; you shall adorn him with gifts...”[2]
It’s obvious that this gift is not his compensation, because that has been paid to him when he was originally hired. So why is there a special obligation to give him valuable gifts at the time of his departure?
Rav Yochanan Zweig explains that in our society it is accepted that one offer a tip for services rendered on his behalf. It is intriguing however, that tips are given for certain services, but not others. 
For example, if a person checks in his luggage curbside, it is accepted that he tip the porter. However, if he checks his luggage in at the counter, he does not tip the attendant. Similarly, one tips a barber, but not a cashier.
Rav Zweig explains that when one performs a personal service for another, to a certain extent he has demeaned himself for the other person’s convenience or benefit. The tip is the means by which the recipient restores dignity to the person who served him; it demonstrates his appreciation for what has done for him.
The Torah requires that we give parting gifts to the Jewish slave, since, for six years he has been at our beck and call, giving us the highest level of personal service. We are obligated, therefore, to restore his dignity.
That is why the Torah employs very usual terminology for the giving of this gift. Instead of the more common verb used for giving, "titein", the Torah uses "ha'aneik", which is not found anywhere else in the Torah in that form.
Rashi explains that the word comes from the noun "anaka", which means jewelry worn around the neck. When a person wears jewelry, he feels elevated, because it gives him a sense of dignity. This is the function of the gift which is given to the Jewish slave. We are attempting to restore the dignity that was lost by his six years of personal service.

In Parshas Re’eh, the Torah also commands about the mitzva of tzedaka: “Be open-handed and freely lend him sufficient for his need in that which he lacks.”[3]
The Gemara[4] explains that when the pasuk states that a poor person must be provided with what is “sufficient for his needs”, it means that one is commanded to give him what he personally needs. This means even a horse to ride on and a slave to run before him, if that is what he is accustomed to.
The Gemara relates that Hillel the elder bought for a certain poor man who came from an aristocratic family a horse to ride on and a slave to run before him. On one occasion when he could not find a slave to run before him, he himself ran before him for three miles.
From the Gemara it is clear that there is a psychological dimension to tzedakah as well. It is embarrassing to be impoverished, and therefore we have an obligation to protect the poor person from humiliation and to preserve his dignity. 
The mishna at the end of Ta’anis relates that on Yom Kippur and the fifteenth of Av, young women would borrow clothing before they began dancing, ‘so as not to shame those who do not have.’ There too, the value of maintaining the dignity of others is taken into account.
The Torah does not only value chesed and tzedakah but maintaining dignity as well. When one performs chesed he must also take into account the feelings of the recipient. He cannot become so intoxicated by his philanthropy that he forgets about how it feels to need to accept.
One must always be vigilant about how his words and actions - even positive ones - affect others.

“You shall adorn him with gifts”
“For his need in that which he lacks”

Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW
Rebbe/Guidance Counselor – Heichal HaTorah
Principal – Ohr Naftoli- New Windsor

[1] From the book “Warmed by Their Fire” by Yisroel Besser
[2] Devorim 15:13,14
[3] Devorim 15:8
[4] Kesuvos 64b


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