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Pirkei Avot – chapter 5 – 5778

Pirkei Avot – chapter 5 – 5778

Rav Mordechai Elon

The Mishnah in Avot talks of the four types of charity givers:

אַרְבַּע מִדּוֹת בְּנוֹתְנֵי צְדְקָה. הָרוֹצֶה שֶׁיִּתֵּן וְלֹא יִתְּנוּ אֲחֵרִים – עֵינוֹ רָעָה בְּשֶׁל אֲחֵרִים. יִתְּנוּ אֲחֵרִים וְהוּא לֹא יִתֵּן – עֵינוֹ רָעָה בְשֶׁלּוֹ. יִתֵּן וְיִתְּנוּ אֲחֵרִים – חָסִיד. לֹא יִתֵּן וְלֹא יִתְּנוּ אֲחֵרִים – רָשָׁע.

There are four types of charity givers: Those who want to give but don’t want others to give, he is mean to others. Others may give but he doesn’t want to – he is mean himself, he may give and so may others, this is a chassid. He who won't give and he doesn’t want others too either, he is a Rasha.

We will begin with the last, the rasha , and as a question we have asked in the past: The Mishna in Avot doesn’t want to tell us about completely evil people. It doesn’t want to teach us that it is forbidden to steal, instead it teaches us “words of righteousness “ , it wants to teach us about an evil person who could be one of us. This is obvious because the title of the Mishna is “four types of charity givers”, in other words, he is one who is giving charity. We are sometimes this rasha, so we must try to understand him, what does it mean  “he wont give and neither will others”, and how can someone like that be called a charity giver?

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