Tuesday, November 06, 2007

How the Mighty have Fallen

The Rabbis taught in a braisa (Kesuvos 66b): There was an incident with Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai who was riding on a donkey on his way out of Yerushalayim, and his students were following him on foot. H saw a young girl who was picking barley out of the dung of Arab-owned animals. When she saw him, she covered her face with her hair and stood before him saying, “Master, give me food!” He said, “My daughter, who are you?” She replied, “I am the daughter of Nakdimon ben Gurion.” He asked her, “My daughter, where did your father’s money go?” She replied, “Don’t they say the following parable in Yerushalayim: “The salt of money is its shortage (if you want your money to be preserved, lessen it through charity)?” Others say that it is through kindness. (As the members of her family were not charitable they lost their money.) He asked, “Where did the fortune of your in-laws go?” She replied, “This one came and destroyed that which belonged to the other (my father’s money and his money were mixed up together, and when one was lost, the other disappeared with it).” She continued, “Master, do you remember when you signed my kesuvah?” He turned to his students and said, “I remember when I signed on her kesuvah, and I read about a million gold dinarss that were pledged by her father alone, besides of that of her in-laws.” Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai started crying. He said, “Praised are you Yisrael! When you do the will of Hashem, no nation can rule over you! When you do not do the will of Hashem, He delivers you into the hands of a low nation. And not into the hands of a low nation, but in the hands of the animals of a low nation!”

The Gemora asks: Didn’t we learn that Nakdimon gave generously to charity?

The Gemora answers: Either he gave for his own honor or he did not give as much as he should have.

*** What can we derive from the fact that Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai was riding on a donkey, and his students were following him on foot?

*** How could she have covered her face with her hair; isn’t the hair of a woman regarded as ervah?

*** Why did Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai question her regarding the money of her father; didn’t he know about the fire that destroyed all of his storehouses?

*** The Hafla’ah writes a fascinating interpretation of the proverb said over in Yerushalayim: “The salt of money is its shortage.” If one shortens the word “mamon,” it will be spelled: mem, mem and nun. If you spell out these letters, the letters mem, mem, vav and nun will appear, spelling “mamon” in its entirety. This demonstrates that if one creates a deficit in his money by giving generously to charity, his money will be preserved and he will be repaid many times over.


Anonymous said...

A)kovod hatorah
Interestingly enough (I might have wrote this here before {in Tannis}) but the reason his daughter came to this level is because even though Hashem caused a miracle and the sun appeared again really the day was over and it was owed to the goy and hence he lost his money (Drashos Chasam Sofer)