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Thought for the Day: Getting the Most Bang for Your Buck

When I was about eight years old an older kid offered me a shiny, new penny for my dingy, old quarter.  I demurred.  Even I knew that a quarter, no matter how dingy, was worth five candy bars; a penny, no matter how shiny, was only worth one gum ball.

I was thinking about the Hatzala volunteer (let's call him Yehuda) who found a large sum of unmarked cash (let's say it was $5000.00).  It was paskened that the money had been hefker and  it became the rightful property Yehuda.  Subsequently,Yehuda was called to help a heart attack victim (let's call him Shimon).  It became clear to Yehuda that Shimon was the rightful owner of that money, so Yehuda acted lifnim mi'shuras ha'din and returned the $5000 to Shimon.  Yehuda's reward for being a tzadik is paying $500 ma'aser on the original find; since al pi din it was his.  Is that fair?

Suppose Yehuda had not volunteered for Hatzala or had not been called to help Shimon, or had any way decided the money was his (which it was) and kept.  Then Yehuda could have taken his wife for a beautiful kosher cruise.  Yehuda would still not have the original $5000, and he was still have had to pay $500 ma'aser money.  So let's compare.  Keep the money and get a week of pleasure in this world.  Return the money and get an eternity of pleasure in olam haba for the mitzvah of hashovos aveida.  Actually, since he didn't have to give it back, this mitzvah is of super fine "m'hadrin min ha'm'hadrin" quality.  But there is more!  That ma'aser was really hard to give, so Yehuda gets "l'fum tza'arah agra" credit for it!  So just for volunteering for Hatzala and being compassionate to another Jew, Yehuda's return on investment went from finite to highest quality infinite??  Wow; talk about the rich get richer!

No, its not fair.  But HaShem loves us so He is willing to spoil us.

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