Mr. Shain was visiting his grandchildren in another town. One day he went to davenMinchah and reached the shul before the lights were turned on. He sat down outside the entrance and began to read Tehillim by the light of the late afternoon sun.
As the other congregants trickled in, a few put some coins into the old man’s suit pocket. When his grandson arrived and observed what was happening, he became annoyed with his grandfather. The young man knew that the family was well off and had no need of financial assistance. His grandfather’s tacit acceptance of charity was an embarrassment to the family — or so he thought.
“Why are you sitting in the entranceway collecting alms?” the young man asked. “You certainly don’t need the money. When people find out, our family will be shamed.”
Mr. Shain became angry, but managed to control his temper. “I didn’t ask for money,” he explained. “However, some people misunderstood my reason for sitting here and thought I am poor. If I didn’t accept gracefully, or, even worse, if I yelled out ‘What do you think I am? A beggar?’ they would’ve been embarrassed. I’d rather be embarrassed myself than cause hurt to another.”
Then the elderly gentleman led his grandson into the synagogue and deposited all the “charity” into the tzedakah box.
One must be ready to be embarrassed rather than cause another shame (Yoma 23a). Greatness is not based on physical strength or the ability to overpower another. The sign of a powerful person is one who can control oneself — at the expense of self-degradation — in order to avoid hurting another.
One More Second: Another Thought for the Day
…[I]t is very important for the family to eat the main meal together…try to eat together at least once or twice during the week. Many families are so rushed and pressured by the multiple demands of daily life that the only time the members see each other is on Shabbos. The result is a sad fragmentation of the family unit. Eating together reinforces closeness and gives parents and children — and siblings — a chance to get to know each other better. (Roiza D. Weinreich, In Joy, p. 153)
Rabbi Raymond Beyda serves in the Sephardic Community in Brooklyn, N.Y. He lectures to audiences all over the world. He has distributed over 500,000 recorded lessons free of charge. He is author of the book 1 Minute With Yourself: A Minute a Day to Self-Improvement, Sephardic Press, 2008.