A Second Thought About Giving Charity

A Second Thought About Giving Charity

A homeless person begging

The Talmud tells the amazing story of Mar Ukva who would go everyday to the home of a poor man and slip cash into his door post. The poor man really wished to know who was doing this and decided one day to find out. On that day Mar Ukva and his wife made the trip to the poor man’s house together but just as they were opening the door post the poor man came running towards them. The two of them fled because they did not want to embarrass the poor man by him finding out that one of the greatest rabbis of the generation was coming personally to his home everyday to secretly help him. The Talmud says that the only way they could escape him was to jump into a hot oven where the coals had already been raked. Mar Ukva’s feet began to burn and his wife told him to put his feet on top of hers because her’s were not burning. The Talmud explains that her merit of charity was greater than his because, being in the home, she could offer the poor instant care with ready made food while her husband’s care was only in the form of money. What makes the story even more incredible is that the Talmud says that when Mar Ukva was about to die he had a ledger where every coin he ever gave to charity had been recorded. And even though the amount was amazing he said, “the road is long and my supplies are few” referring to his upcoming trip to the Next World. He then gave away fifty percent of all his holdings which was considered ten times what the Talmud normally considered to be exceptionally wealthy. From this story you see an outstanding Torah scholar, a leading rabbi and perhaps one of the wealthiest men of his generation who not only took time and money to personally care for the poor but dreaded the thought of being discovered and honored for his donations. Something for us to all think about next time we pledge donations for honor or we feel particularly holy because we slipped a small coin into a desperate person’s hand. Talmud Kesubos 67b

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