Halacha Date: 8 Iyar 5782 May 9 2022
The Mishnah in Pirkei Avot (Chapter 3, Mishnah 8) states: “Rabbi Elazar of Bartota says: Give Him from that which is His, for you and yours are his. Similarly, King David said: ‘For everything is from You and from Your hand we have given to You.’”
The meaning of the phrase “Give Him from that which is His” means that whatever one owns in this world is from Hashem; thus, the Tanna tells us to “give Him,” Hashem, “from that which is His, for you and yours are His,” meaning that all of the wealth that Hashem bestows upon the wealthy is only considered a “security” and the wealthy are merely considered the “guardians” of Hashem’s possessions, in order for them to be able to assist the needy and the downtrodden. As a result, they are indeed worthy of living a life of affluence. This can be explained with a very interesting Halacha from Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat (Chapter 246) regarding one who departs from this world and leaves over a will in which he bequeaths all of his possessions to one of his sons as a gift: “If one writes [a will leaving] all of his possessions as a gift for one of his sons, he has only made him a guardian and he inherits the possessions equally among the rest of his brothers.” This means that although the father has written in his will that he is leaving all of his possessions for only one of his sons, we do not say that this son is the sole inheritor, for we assume that the father did not intend to remove the rights of his other sons to his possessions; rather, he only meant for his other sons to respect this particular son and to heed his instructions as to the division of the inheritance. Thus, this particular son is responsible for the financial aspects of the inheritance; however, he only collects a share of the inheritance which is equal to that of his other brothers. Similarly, when Hashem showers wealth upon one of his sons among the Jewish nation, this particular Jew is not considered to be the owner of this wealth; rather, he is only considered a guardian appointed to divide it among his needy brethren in order to support them. In lieu of this, he is indeed worthy of honor, as the Gemara in Masechet Eruvin (86a) states that Rabbi Yehuda Ha’Nassi and Rabbi Akiva would respect wealthy individuals. This refers to wealthy individuals who feared Heaven and performed kindness and charity. The Sefer Chassidim writes that there are certain situations when an individual may not really be so deserving of life, however, he will continue to live because others depend on him. If he stops helping others, he shall immediately depart from this world. Similarly, at times when one sins before Hashem, he is deserving of all sorts of harsh illnesses and the like, however, Hashem does not punish this person because others depend on him and the merit of the public protects him and this will in turn facilitate him with the opportunity to repent and mend that which he has broken.
Once, Hagaon Harav Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman zt”l needed to attend a certain gathering meant to encourage Torah learners and because he was elderly and weak, someone close to him suggested that he stay home and rest. The Rav replied, “I had many friends, however, all of the were ‘put to sleep’ (a reference to having passed on) and only I was not put to sleep. Apparently, that means that there is still some use for me and if I stay home to rest, I will no longer be of such use and then, perhaps they will put me to sleep as well.” He then rushed with great self-sacrifice to attend the gathering.