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Simcha Groffman

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Parashas Ki Savo

Return to Sender?

"My trusted shaliach (agent), Mr. Shick, take this gift of money to my dear friend Reuven Geshtorbin, who lives in Kiryat Sefer."

"Yes sir, Mr. Sender."

Mr. Shick comes to Kiryat Sefer with the money, but to his dismay, he cannot find Reuven Geshtorbin. After making a few inquiries, he discovers that Reuven Geshtorbin has passed away.

"Since Reuven is no longer alive, I must return the money to Mr. Sender."

Mr. Shick returns to Mr. Sender's home, only to receive another piece of bad news.

"Mr. Sender has passed away."

The question is:

Now that both the sender and the receiver have passed away, what should Mr. Shick do with the money?

The answer is:

The Gemora (Gittin 14b) cites four different opinions to answer this question.

1) The Yesh Omrim - When Mr. Sender told Mr. Shick to take the money, he implied that Mr. Shick should acquire the money - on the spot - on behalf of Reuven. Therefore, the money belonged to Reuven. When Reuven subsequently died, his heirs inherited the money, therefore it goes to them.

2) Rebbe Yehuda HaNasi agrees with the Yesh Omrim, that the money should go the Reuven's heirs, but for an entirely different reason. According to Rebbe Yehuda HaNasi, when Mr. Sender told Mr. Shick to take the gift, he did not imply that he should acquire the money for Reuven. Therefore, it still belongs to Mr. Sender. However, after Mr. Sender dies, we have a mitzvah to fulfill the wishes of the dead man. Therefore, Mr. Shick should give the money to Reuven's heirs in order to carry out the mitzvah of fulfilling the wishes of the dead man.

3) Rebbe Nosson and Rebbe Yaakov agree with Rebbe Yehuda HaNasi that there was no implied acquisition in Mr. Sender's order to take the money. However, they disagree with the second point. There is no mitzvah to fulfill the wishes of the dead man. Therefore, the money goes back to the heirs of Mr. Sender.

4) The Chachomim are in doubt about both issues. Ordinarily, they would rule to divide the money between the heirs of Mr. Sender and the heirs of Reuven Geshtorben. In this particular case, however, they allow the shaliach to give the money to whomever he feels deserves it.

It's Great to be Grateful


"Shalom Rabbi Katz, this is Aryeh Levy calling."

"Shalom, Aryeh! How are you?"

"Baruch Hashem, Rabbi just fine."

"What's doing, Aryeh?"

"Last week I asked the Rabbi for his advice on how to handle a sticky situation with a neighbor."

"Yes, I remember that."

"I just wanted to thank the Rabbi. His advice was excellent, and the problem is now 100% solved."

"Wonderful! Thank you so much for telling me that Aryeh. What else is doing?"

"Nothing, Rabbi Katz. I just wanted to express my appreciation."

Rabbi Katz was pleasantly surprised.

"That is fantastic, Aryeh. I am the one who owes you a thank you."

"You're welcome Rabbi Katz; but what did I do?"

"You expressed your hacoras ha'tov (gratitude), Aryeh. Do you know how many people call me every day and all night, asking shaylas (questions concerning Torah laws) and advice?"

"I can just imagine, Rabbi."

"Very often I spend many hours speaking with the person or researching his shayla. After I give the answer, I usually do not hear anything. This time it is different. It is so gratifying to hear from you that the problem was solved. It is even more heartwarming that you made a special phone call just to thank me."

"It is the least that I can do, Rabbi Katz, after all the help that you have given to me."

Kinderlach . . .

The parasha begins with the declaration made when bringing the bikurim (first fruits). "And you will approach the Kohen...and you shall say to him..." Devarim (26:3)]. The person proceeds to make a lengthy statement, expressing his gratitude for the good that Hashem has done for the Jewish people since the days of Yaakov Avinu, down to the present bringing of these first fruits. Isn't it enough to bring the fruits? Why do we also have to make a long speech? The Sefer HaChinuch explains that expressing hacoras ha'tov arouses true feelings of appreciation in one's heart. Hashem wants us to truly appreciate the good, and not just go through the motions of bringing the bikurim. Rashi adds, in the name of the Sifrei, that the declaration shows that you are not unaware of the good. The Ikar Sifsei Chachomim expands on this point. If a person does not recall the Source of the good, by making this declaration, he will push it out of his mind. He will come to ignore the good. This is a terrible fault. Seichel (common sense) alone tells us that being ungrateful is a lowly trait. Therefore, the Torah comes to implant gratitude into our hearts. Hacoras ha'tov is a trait that needs constant chizuk (strengthening).

The Chovos HaLevavos goes even further. Hacoras ha'tov (literally recognizing the good) is the foundation of Avodas Hashem. The more a person feels indebted to Hashem, the more sincere will be his service to the Holy One.

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