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Thought for the Day: Letting HaShem Run the World and Enjoying the Ride

I was watching my recently digitized home movies and saw some scenes from a trip we made to Disneyland when I was about four or so.  I don't remember much, but I did remember the boat ride where my brother and I got to steer a little power boat.  We were so careful!  It was especially nerve wracking when we had to negotiate around huge rocks in rough water.  I was thrilled that my parents trusted me enough to steer that boat all by myself!  Obviously, as I discovered in subsequent vacations, the boats were on a track under the water.  My parents' "faith" in me seemed a little less shocking.

I spoke last night with a good friend of mine concerning my post about giving tzedaka one dollar at a time because that's better for my midos.  She was a bit miffed that I had not even taken into consideration the feelings of the receiver.  I said, “It's not me!  It's the Rambam!”  (That's me; always ready to hide behind someone big enough to protect me.  Yes; I am coward.)  My friend acknowledged that but pressed the point, “Maybe there are other opinions?”  Maybe, but I don't know any that contradict this position.  So here's my answer.

The Talmud records (Bava Basra 10a) that a wicked Roman nobleman named Turnus Rufus asked Rabbi Akiva, “If your G-d loves poor people so much, why doesn’t He provide for them?” Rabbi Akiva answered that HaShem allows them to remain poor in order to give us the merit of giving them charity, which will save us from the judgement of Gehinom.  Seems that R' Akiva is also not so concerned about the receiver.  Why not?  Because just has HaShem is providing the giver with the what he needs for his tikun, so to the receiver is being provided with what he needs.  Some of us need to the tikun of giving tzedaka, some of us need the tikun of being m'zake others by giving them a place for their tzedaka to go.  In both cases, the actual needs are being provided for by HaShem.  If the receiver doesn't get all the money they need in one place, it means they are actually getting the benefit of being allowed to be the vehicle by which others get their needed tikun.  Isn't it cool that you can save another Jew from the judgement of Gehinom simply be allowing HaShem to give him the money to give to you?

And why is HaShem so calm during all this turmoil?  We are all avoiding rocks and navigating rough water, but HaShem seems so serene!  Ah... there's a track under the surface...


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