Sunday, May 09, 2010

Pirkei Avot - Ethics of Our Fathers - Chapter 5, II

Pirkei Avot 5:16

ארבע מדות בנותני צדקה רוצה שיתן ולא ייתנו אחרים עינו רעה בשל אחרים שייתנו אחרים והוא לא ייתן עינו רעה בשלו שיתן וייתנו אחרים חסיד לא ייתן ולא ייתנו אחרים רשע.

There are four categories of those who give chartiy: a person who wishes to give, but does not desire that others also give; such a person has an evil eye towards others. He who desires that others give, but not he, such a person is stingy. One who gives and desires that others also give; he is pious. One who does not give, and wishes that others would not also give, he is wicked

- The Talmud states that one who gives charity is enriched (This is deduced from Malachi 3:10). Hence, one who wants others to not give charity has an evil eye as he doesn't want others to be enriched.

- The first question one should ask when reading this mishna is how can this mishna be talking about donors when two of the four examples (#2: desires that others give but not he and #4: does not give) do not give? This is explained nicely by Rav Moshe Aleshkar - who says that all four refer to people who do give charity but whose attitudes differ. Rav Twerski (Visions of the Fathers, pg 303-4), using Rav Aleshkar's reasoning, breaks the donors down in the following way:
  1. One who prefers that no one else should give, so that he may claim the entire credit for the project himself
  2. One who ultimately does donate but is a non-giver at the start
  3. One who gladly gives and hopes others follow suit
  4. One who donates begrudgingly
It's a privilege to give tzedakah, and hence it should be done with enthusiasm and consideration - one should try to internalize that so that their giving not be considered as that of a rasha.

No comments: