Vayakhel: Donations, Demons and Wills

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This week’s lesson is dedicated by Rabbi Eliyahu Junik in loving memory of his father, Rabbi Avrohom Boruch Junik. Yartzeit 19 Adar.

Are demons bothered by charity giving at night? What is the most famous will in Jewish history? Which country excels in the mitzvah of charity?

Lesson Contents:

A. Charity At Night?

The Rebbe would distribute money for charity at the close of the farbrengens. On one such occasion, the Rebbe asked: Rabbi Yehudah the Chassid wrote not to distribute funds on Motzaei Shabbos. The Jerusalem Talmud speaks of the possible negative impacts of giving charity at night (Source 1-2). If so, why are fundraisers customarily set for Motzaei Shabbos?

B. The Mitzvah of the Generation

The Alter Rebbe writes that the mitzvah of the generation is charity, despite the statement in the Mishnah that the study of Torah is equivalent of all mitzvos (Source 3). How is that possible? The answer, the Rebbe explains, is that charity is our time is like a time-relevant mitzvah — which, according to Jewish law, overrides Torah learning.

This, the Rebbe points out, explains why American fundraisers are so often held on Motzaei Shabbos. The country in which the Jewish community so personifies charity is the place where we see with the most emphasis that charity is the mitzvah of the day — and therefore unbound by all limitations.

The Rebbe had a personal experience with giving charity at night as well (Source 4).

C. Spiritual Charity

In this letter (Source 5), the Rebbe explains (as he did on countless occasions), that an important — and primary — element of charity is “spiritual charity”: teaching and sharing one’s Judaism with others.

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