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Mark was walking home from school when he noticed that the boy ahead of him had tripped and dropped all the books and belongings that he was carrying. Mark knelt down and helped the boy, Bill, pick up the scattered items. As they spoke, Mark discovered that Bill was having trouble with many areas of his life.
They stayed in contact over the future years. Before graduation, Bill called over Mark and reminded him of the day that they met. "I was on the way to end my life," he explained. "I was clearing out my locker, I didn't want to leave a mess for anyone. After we had spent that time talking and laughing, I realized what I would be missing should I go. You didn’t just pick up my books…. You saved my life."
We are told in this week's Torah portion that "If your brother becomes poor, and his hand falters when he is with you, then you should support him|. (Vayikra 25:35).
The phrase "and his hand falters" expresses a hold that is in the process of weakening. It stresses that we are commanded to help people BEFORE they fall.
Maimonides explains that this is the highest level of charity. To support someone BEFORE the decline. Don't wait for them to hit rock bottom. Aid them be able to sustain themselves, and not need the help at all!
But this applies to more than finances.
We need to support people before they fall emotionally too. Notice signs, struggles, moods. Send regular messages to people to check up on how they are doing, or to call them.
To not wait until someone cries out for help.
When "his hand falters", hold him up!
(Story from 'Chicken Soup for the Soul')