R’ Bentzion Pil[1] became quite wealthy shortly after his wedding, although he was penniless up until that point. He did not, however, keep the bulk of the money for himself, rather he distributed much of it to those in need.

R’ Mendel Futerfas said that he learned how to properly distribute tzedaka from R’ Bentzion, and spoke very highly of him.

When R’ Itche der Masmid would come to Charkov to raise funds for Tomchei Temimim, R’ Bentzion would give him all of the money in his pocket at that time. R’ Itche asked him, “Why don’t you count how much money you are giving me?”

R’ Bentzion answered, “Is it my money? It’s Hashem’s money. He gave it to me and I’m only passing it on to you.”

R’ Itche was very impressed with the response and he said, “Being that you have a family to support and you nonetheless conduct yourself as such, I bentch you that you should become so wealthy that money should be meaningless for you.”

The bracha was fulfilled and he became more and more wealthy. He continued to be even more charitable as his wealth grew.

R’ Bentzion’s brother in law, R’ Avremel Zaltzman, was in the photography business and he used to pass by R’ Bentzion’s house on the way home. One day R’ Bentzion asked him how was work, and he answered that because it was a cloudy day there hadn’t been any customers. Immediately R’ Bentzion took out a wad of bills and put it in R’ Avremel’s pocket, saying, “When you come home, tell your wife that you had a good day at work.”

On another occasion R’ Bentzion was walking with his brother in law R’ Dovid Pevzner and he saw a Yid selling cases of chocolate and sweets. R’ Bentzion proceded to purchase enormous quantities of what was being sold. His brother in law turned to him saying, “Why do you need so many sweets? You only have a couple of children?”

R’ Bentzion replied, “Firstly, when I have guests I’ll be able to honor them with these tasty foods. But mainly, he is a Yid and he also needs to support his family, so that’s why I bought so much.”

Another illustration of R’ Bentzion’s extreme and out of the ordinary tzedaka can be seen in the following story.

A woman named Esther had a son who wished to marry a certain girl whom his mother – Esther – did not approve of, and she begged her son to not go ahead with that girl. The son married her anyway, and they moved to Poltava. Eventually, Esther wanted to come live by her son, but her daughter in law told her that since in the past she wasn’t welcomed by her mother in law, now her mother in law is not welcome. With that she gave her some travel money and sent her on her way.

Esther returned to Charkov with nothing; not even a place to live. She stood by the shul collecting donations and most people threw her a coin. When R’ Bentzion arrived at shul, he invited her to live with his family. It was a one bedroom apartment, nonetheless R’ Bentzion made her feel like she was a part of the family.

When the family moved to Samarkand she came with. She was known in the family as ‘Bubbe Esther’.

Such was the charitability and hospitality of R’ Bentzion. Always doing the job in a complete way.
[1] pg. 292 in the Hebrew Samarkand book by Rabbi Hillel Zaltzman.

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