Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!

For you shall surely open up your hand for him… sufficient for his need which he lacks…” (15:8)

Download PDF

We are herein enjoined to provide the indigent not only with basic sustenance, but also to provide for all his wants and needs. The Talmud in Kesubos (67b) relates that Hillel ran before the carriage of a formerly wealthy individual in order to satisfy the rich man’s needs for the outer trappings of affluence to which he was accustomed. The Talmud defines this act as adherence to the dictates of “dei machsoro”, the necessity to provide the indigent with all that they lack and need. We should wonder, however, as to the attitude of this pauper. Did he not realize that he caused Hillel, the great saint and leader of Klal Yisroel much effort and degradation? Surely his need was not due to of any form of mental imbalance, since Hillel would not have been required to act as he did. We may assume, that although the pauper was mentally stable, his obsession with pursuit of honor was so encompassing that it caused him to act in an irrational manner. For his own purposes, he thought nothing of trampling on Hillel’s honor, to have him act as a servant. Often one allows reason to be overpowered by the senseless dictates of honor and prestige, therby causing the forfeiture of many opportunities for progress. The notions of prestige and the pursuit of the demands of one’s ego have destroyed many a potentially great individual. The appetite for “kavod” is unsatiable, since it is without substance, it never fully satisfies the ego.

Why would Hashem have created man with such a powerful lust for kavod? Possibly so that man may gain a deeper insight of how to give honor to his fellow man without any limitations or confines. As much as one must distance oneself from the pursuit of honor, one should work to provide this honor for someone else. All the scheming which is prohibited for oneself, becomes obligatory when performed for someone else, even to the extent of proferring imaginary honor when the circumstance so dictates. This explains Hillel’s endeavor to satisfy the cravings of a formerly wealthy man.

Let every man look within himself. Each one knows how much honor he desires, and how much honor he needs to attain happiness. To use it for himself is evil and perverse, to provide instead for another is noble, dignified and mandated.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!

You have Successfully Subscribed!