Sunday, 5 July 2009

Honouring Our Fellow Jew

The story is told of Rav Chaim of Sanz and his wonderful acts of kindness. He was known to give generously of his own funds and in addition to raise funds from wealthy Jews to help worthy causes. Rav Chaim was careful to always go collecting funds together with another Jew.

On one particular occasion, Rav Chaim learned that a Jew who had been wealthy became bankrupt and so he began collecting sufficient funds to set this man back on his feet. Here ,to begin with, we find tremendous respect for his fellow Jew, that he should be able to continue at the level he was accustomed to.

Rav Chaim arranged for a trustee to go with him to visit another wealthy Jew in order to request a donation of five hundred rubbles for this cause. When they arrived, the wealthy Jew asked Rav Chaim what the worhty cause was and whether the cause was public or private in nature. To this Rav Chaim answered that it was to help a wealthy Jew who had fallen on hard times and needed capital to get back on his feet.

Hearing this, the wealthy man became curious and asked who it was for, to which Rav Chaim insisted that he could not divulge further details, for it would embarrass the Jew involved. Rav Chaim added that the wealthy man would just have to trust him.

The wealthy Jew then stated that he had no doubts that it was for a good cause and was prepared to give several thousand rubbles if necessary, but needed to know who it was for.

The trustee accompanying Rav Chaim tried to persuade him to give in and reveal the identity of the man they were raising funds to help. However, Rav Chaim stood his ground. He would not risk embarrassing another Jew not for any amount of donation offered.

The wealthy Jew's curiosity was further roused and he again tried to press to learn more information and to offer more of a donation. The trustee, thinking revealing more information would lead to a sizable donation, tried again to pursuade Rav Chaim that it was for a good cause. Rav Chaim responded "It is very generous and praiseworthy of you to offer such a large sum, but this other man's honour is worth more to me. Even if you were to give me the entire sum he needs, I would refuse to reveal his identity."

The story continues and has a happy ending, however it is this point that I wish to highlight. As can been seen on our blogs and website we too often put in our efforts to assist various Jews we know of who are in need of assistance for one reason or another. All those that we assist are known to us and have a letter from their rabbi or doctor to verrify their situation. However, this information is known only to us. Like Rav Chaim of Sanz, we make it a policy to respect and honour those who we attempt to assist. We ask then that anyone wishing to make a donation please trust that we do work to help those who genuinely need assistance, as can be seen from a Letter of Approbation by Rav Fishel Jacobs

In the merit of the wonderful example set by Rav Chaim of Sanz, may we master honouring every Jew and remember that their dignity comes before our curiosity.

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