HOW TO MANIFEST THE DIVINE POTENTIAL IN ALL YOUR POSSESSIONS
Bitachon Bytes, Toldos
By Rabbi Zalman Goldberg
After being sent away by King Avimelech, Yitzchak became very successful1. He cultivated the soil and enjoyed the results of supernatural success. Rashi2 brings two explanations for what happened. One explanation is that the miracle was based on the estimation before anything grew, i.e., the output of the crop was much higher than originally anticipated.
The second explanation is that the miracle took place in reference to an estimation of how much maaser was to be given, i.e. after the produce had already grown. In other words, according to the second explanation, the miracle was a corollary of Yitzchak’s resolve to tithe his income based upon the produce that had already grown. The miracle was that his produce suddenly multiplied one hundred-fold.
The true meaning of maaser3 (and essentially tz’daka as well, as we will soon see) which was given to the Levi, is that from my possessions, there is a definite unspecified part that I am obligated to give to Hashem. By contrast, when dealing with the presents given to the Kohen there are specific parts of the animal etc. that at the onset belong to the Kohen. And with regard to Truma given to the Kohen, there is no specific amount that must be given to Hashem. It could be a little more or less. By the tithing for the Levi however, there is no specific part of the produce that must be given to Hashem; the owner has the option of choosing where the tithe should come from. However, exactly ten percent, no less, must be donated to the Levi. So only by maaser given to the Levi is everything the owner’s and any part of it could potentially be part of the obligatory tithe with which the mitzvah will be fulfilled.
In other words, the mitzvah of maaser represents a world which is mundane as we see it and every part of it must be able to be elevated to Hashem. So in every part of the world there is the real practical potential to see that the physical world is all Hashem’s.
This is essentially the goal of Midas HaBitachon4, that our lives with all its mundane aspects should reflect Hashem, and thus be devoted to Hashem in every way. The outcome of this will be Bitachon in Hashem, in every situation of life, from inside out.
In this manner did Yitzchak give maaser5, revealing how all of his possessions and acquisitions were all Hashem’s, even if in actuality only a certain amount was given, but all of his possessions reflected Hashem’s will by being part of the potential maaser. This is why he deserved such a huge miracle in which his produce multiplied after already growing, for once his whole worldly being was elevated to a level of G-dliness, his possessions became a vessel for a reflection of Hashem’s greatest miracles.
Perhaps this can explain the conduct of various tzaddikim, amongst them Reb Levi Yitzchok Berditchever, who would not leave even a morsel of food in his house overnight that hadn’t been distributed to the poor. The story is told6 that one night Reb Levi Yitzchak could not sleep. As much as he tried, sleep eluded him. At one point, he turned to his wife and asked, “Are you sure that all the food was distributed to the poor and there is none left?”
“I’m quite sure, but I’ll go check,” she said.
Sure enough, she found some crusts and scraps of food which she immediately donated to the poor and only then was Reb Levi Yitzchak able to sleep soundly.
There were many great tzaddikim who gave away the money they received to tz’daka before considering their own needs. The Baal Shem Tov7 and Reb Nochum Chernobler8 were among them. The Alter Rebbe demanded of his Chassidim to give with an open hand to Yidden in Eretz Yisroel even when income was low9.
When internalizing that all of our possessions and money is truly G-dly, the first choice for the use of our possessions will be to serve Hashem, either by giving generously to tz’daka or through other ways of serving Hashem, rather than serving our own comforts and pleasures.
Rabbi Zalman Goldberg is a well sought after speaker and lecturer on Chassidic thought. His writings and recordings on the topic of Bitachon can be accessed at http://www.gotbitachon.com.
1) בראשית כ”ו, י”ב.
2) ד”ה מאה שערים.
3) לקו”ש ח”ה עמ’ 70 ואילך.
4) עיין לקו”ש ח”א, עמ’ 1, ושם עמ’ 6, ושם עמ’ 39.
5) לקו”ש ח”ה עמ’ 126.
6) רשימות סיפורים – הרה”ח ר’ חיים אליהו ע”ה מישולבין עמ’ 18.
7) 3 stories in Stories of the Baal Shem Tov vol. 3 pg. 59, quoted from Shivchei HaBesht.
8) עיין סיפורי חסידים – תורה – סיפור 479.
9) עיין אגרת הקודש סי’ ט”ז . ועיין גם שם סי’ י’.