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Table Talk: Re'ei Print E-mail

Table TalkAs Children: ‘Ye are sons of the Lord your God’; when you behave as sons you are designated sons; if you do not behave as sons, you are not designated sons: this is R. Judah's view. R. Meir said: In both cases you are called sons, for it is said, they are sottish children; and it is also said: They are children in whom is no faith; and it is also said, a seed of evil-doers, sons that deal corruptly; and it is said, and it shall come to pass that, in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. Why give these additional quotations? For should you reply, only when foolish are they designated sons, but not when they lack faith — then come and hear: And it is said: ‘They are sons in whom is no faith’. And should you say, when they have no faith they are called sons, but when they serve idols they are not called sons — then come and hear: And it is said: ‘a seed of evil-doers, sons that deal corruptly.’ And should you say, they are indeed called sons that act corruptly, but not good sons — then come and hear: And it is said, and it shall come to pass that, in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.”  (Kiddushin 36a)  The Rashba (Responsa, Volume 1 #154 & #242) rules according to Rabbi Meir that we are always considered children. Do you think that this is related to the reason we are considered children? Is it because God created us and shares the covenant of Torah?  Or, as Rashi says, God considers us His children because He is our rebbi?

According to His Need:
Our Rabbis taught: ‘Sufficient for his need’ [implies] you are commanded to maintain him, but you are not commanded to make him rich; ‘in that which he wanteth’ [includes] even a horse to ride upon and a slave to run before him. It was related about Hillel the Elder that he bought7 for a certain poor man who was of a good family a horse to ride upon and a slave to run before him. On one occasion he could not find a slave to run before him, so he himself ran before him for three miles.
Our Rabbis taught: It once happened that the people of Upper Galilee bought for a poor member of a good family of Sepphoris8 a pound of meat every day.9 ‘A pound of meat’! What is the greatness in this? — R. Huna replied: [It was] a pound of fowl's meat.10 And if you prefer I might say: [They purchased] ordinary meat for a pound11 [of money].12 R. Ashi replied: The place was a small village14 and everyday a beast had to be spoiled for his sake.
A certain man once applied to R. Nehemiah [for maintenance]. ‘What do your meals consist of’, [the Rabbi] asked him. ‘Of fat meat and old wine’, the other replied — ‘Will you consent [the Rabbi asked him] to live17 with me on lentils?’ [The other consented,] lived with him on lentils and died. ‘Alas’, [the Rabbi] said, ‘for this man whom Nehemiah has killed.’ On the contrary, he should [have said] ‘Alas for Nehemiah who killed this man’! — [The fact], however, [is that the man himself was to blame, for] he should not have cultivated his luxurious habits to such an extent.
A man once applied to Raba [for maintenance]. ‘What do your meals consist of?’ he asked him. ‘Of fat chicken and old wine’, the other replied. ‘Did you not consider’, [the Rabbi] asked him, ‘the burden of the community?’ ‘Do I’, the other replied, ‘eat of theirs? I eat [the food] of the All-Merciful; for we learned: The eyes of all wait for Thee, and Thou givest them their food in due season,1this, since it is not said, ‘in their season’ but ‘in his season’, teaches that the Holy One, blessed be He, provides for every individual his food In accordance with his own habits’. Meanwhile there arrived Raba's sister, who had not seen him for thirteen years, and brought him a fat chicken and old wine. ‘What a remarkable incident!’ [Raba] exclaimed; [and then] he said to him, ‘I apologize24 to you, come and eat’. (Ketubot 67b) How do these stories apply to us who usually give Tzedaka through an organization and who are constantly inundated by requests for funds from people who are desperate? Is it better to help one person have “according to his need” or to give less to many people?

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