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Open your Hand

By: Mrs. Rina Zinkin

In this week’s Parsha, we learn about the mitzvah of Tzedaka. In perek 15, pesukim 7 and 8, the Torah teaches us: “V’Lo Tikpotz et yadcha me’achicha ha'evyon pato'ach tiftach et yadcha lo...” “You shall not close your hand against your destitute brother; rather, you should open your hand to him...”

Rav Moshe Feinstien, zt”l, in his sefer Darash Moshe, points out that this is very strange wording to use for the mitzvah of giving Tzedaka. The Torah does not use the words of “giving tzedaka.” Rather, the focus in the pesukim is the manner in which one gives or doesn’t give tzedaka - by opening or closing one’s hand.

Rav Moshe, zt”l, explains that the mitzvah of giving tzedaka is unique in that the manner in which one gives is an intrinsic part the mitzvah. The mitzvah must be done “b’ratzon gamur”, and therefore the Torah uses the words of “pato'ach tiftach.” The mitzvah should be done with a completely open hand.

The Rambam, in Hilchot Matnot Aniyim, (10:4), says that if you don’t give tzedaka with the proper attitude, “b’sever panim yafot u’b’simcha”, then one loses the mitzvah - no matter how much money was given. We don’t find this by other mitzvot -that the wrong demeanor can be mivatel the mitzvah.  

The Rambam, in Hilchot Matnot Aniyim, (10:1), says, “Chayavin anu l’hizaher b’mitzvat tzedaka yoter mikol mitzvot aseh.” The Ramabam may not be saying that the mitzvah of giving tzedakah is a more important mitzvah than any other mitzvat aseh; rather, the Rambam may be teaching us that in this mitzvah of giving tzedakah, one has to be more careful about the manner in which he does it - more than any other mitzvah. The mitzvah of giving tzedakah requires extra zehirut- because the manner in which one performs it is an intrinsic part of the mitzvah.

As we read this week’s parsha, we must learn about the way tzedakah should be given, and make every effort to perform the mitzvah correctly. May we try to truly feel for the person we are giving to and give “b’sever panim yafot” and b’simcha. May we feel grateful for the opportunity to give, and for the chance to perform a mitzvah. As we usher in Chodesh Elul on this Shabbos mevarchim, may the lesson of tzedakah influence the way we perform all of the mitzvot - b’simcha and with a full heart!!

Shabbat Shalom







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