Sivan 12

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May 21, 2009

2 min read

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The Talmud relates that King Munbaz distributed his treasures in a year of famine. His family confronted him and said, "Your ancestors accumulated wealth, and you are dissipating it." Munbaz responded, "My ancestors accumulated wealth in this world, and I am accumulating it in a higher world. They stored their wealth where human hands could reach it, and I am storing it beyond anyone's reach."

The wise words of Munbaz take on special significance in an era such as ours, in which so many people suffer bitter disappointment when the savings they worked for all their lives disappear before their eyes. Major corporations that once appeared invincible have failed, and along with their failures went the pensions that thousands of workers had relied upon for their retirement years. Savings institutions that appeared eternally secure have gone bankrupt, and people who had invested in what they felt were safe securities were left penniless.

While no one disagrees with judicious savings, these economic upturns have proven the Psalmist's caution, not to trust in humans who may not be able to save themselves (Psalms 146:3).

The verse cited above is generally interpreted to mean that any of the tithes given to an individual Kohen belong to him exclusively. Another interpretation may be that whatever we give to tzedakah will be our own. That is something that, as Munbaz said, is beyond human capacity to steal or diminish.

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