The Jewish Eye
Who Is The Better Person?
R' Isser Zalman Meltzer, the Rosh Yeshivah of Slutzk and of Etz Chaim in Yerushalayim, and the author of Even Haezal, was once on his way to his yeshivah to give over a shiur, accompanied by his talmid. On the way, he was approached by a beggar, and R' Meltzer gave him a generous donation. However, the beggar was not satisfied and pleaded for more. R' Meltzer handed him an additional coin. This beggar was particularly audacious, and he complained once again that R' Melzer's donation was not satisfactory. R' Meltzer gave him another coin and proceeded on his way.
His talmid was aghast at what had occurred and asked R' Meltzer why he felt obligated to increase his donation to such a brazen person. R' Meltzer answered, "What's the problem? Do you think I'm better than him? Why am I better? Because I've learned a lot of Torah? Because I'm a Rosh Yeshivah and I give over shiurim? You should know that I'm no better than him. It's the circumstances of life that has led me to be what I am, and has led him to become a beggar. And since I'm not superior to him in any way, I feel obligated to do as he asks."
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