Friday, October 28, 2005


Yesterday I found myself (and gemaragirl) walking through Meah She'arim. We stopped at some silver stores. Excuse my self-righteousness. But I find silver stores sickening. Especially when they are invested with religious meaning.

Can there be anything more ironic and self-defeating than a silver charity box?

The Jerusalem Talmud tells a story:
דלמא. ר' חמא בר חנינא ור' הושעיה הוון מטיילן באילין כנישתא דלוד. אמ' ר' חמא בר חנינא לר' הושעיא - כמה ממון שיקעו אבותיי כאן! אמ' ליה - כמה נפשות שיקעו אבותיך כאן!
A story. R Hama bar Hanina and R Hoshaya were walking in the synagogues of Lod. R Hama said - how much money did my ancestors invest [literally: bury] here! [R Hoshaya] replied - how many souls did your ancestors bury here!
Peah 8:9, 21b (p. 114)

This story is quoted by R Meir of Rothenburg, in response to the question: if someone promised money to an unspecified charity, should the money go towards candles for the synagogue, or for sick people? The answer was, of course, to give it to the sick.

In manuscript versions of this responsum (ed. Prague no. 692 - actually, only the account of a discussion, not a written response), instead of just punning on שקע, the full implication is made explicit - כמה נפשות אבדו אבותיכם , how many souls did your ancestors kill!

So, please, use your money wisely.


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