Dreaming of Moshiach

Thursday, October 19, 2006


"And if your brother becomes poor,[+/-] show/hide text
and his means fail with you, then you shall uphold him; as a stranger and a settler shall he live with you." Vayikra 25:35

Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler, in his sefer Michtav Me'Eliyahu, cites the Midrash on our parasha (34:8), which explains that there are four different methods of measuring chesed. People have the common understanding that chesed is measured by the amount given and the amount received. However, we have four cases in Tanach which lead us to expand upon this narrow definition.

The first case occurs when Avraham provided a meal for the angels who came to visit him. Clearly, these angels were not in need of food. Yet, Chazal tell us that since Avraham performed this act of chesed with the proper motivation, his descendants therefore merited to be fed manna and quail in the desert. They were surrounded by the Clouds of Glory, and had a Pillar of Cloud which led them throughout their travels for forty years.

The second case is when Ammon and Moav refused to provide Klal Yisrael with provisions for their travels. Klal Yisrael clearly did not need any help from them. After all, we survived for forty years in the desert without their help. Still, Ammon and Moav were punished for their refusal to help us, and we were therefore not allowed to marry their descendants until they were ten generations removed from these nations. We see from this that even people who do not actually need our help are entitled to chesed, and one is expected to offer assistance when the situation is appropriate.

The third case is found when Yitro fed Moshe after hearing from his daughters that Moshe had helped them at the well. He not only provided food for Moshe, but for his flocks as well. One could say that feeding Moshe was merely in payment for the work he had done in helping Yitro's daughters. However, because Yitro realized the importance of acknowledging the good that one has done and did not take Moshe's act of chesed for granted, three hundred years later, his descendants were rewarded as Shaul warned them to leave before he attacked Amalek. (Shmuel I 15:6)

The fourth case involves Boaz, who provided food for Ruth. The pasuk (Ruth 2:14) tells us that he gave her parched grain, a small amount of food. Hashem gave her a bracha, and this small amount of food was able to satiate her. Since Boaz had the proper motivation when he gave this
food to Ruth, he merited to be the progenitor of David HaMelech, and ultimately the Moshiach.

We see from this that when someone is in need, even providing him with a little can be of great help.

Chesed is defined by the sincerity of intent and degree of commitment on the part of the giver. A gesture of true kindness emanates from the heart. Just as its impact can be felt for generations, so too will be its rewards. Through performing acts of chesed, when done only for the sake of chesed, and without any expectation of receiving something in return, may we all merit many good things for the future.




והיה השם למלך על כל הארץ, ביום ההוא יהיה השם אחד - ושמו אחד ישתבח שמו לעד לנצח נצחים בכל העולמות Blessed is His name for eternity in all worlds אין עוד מלבדו