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Section: Tzedaka   Category: Minhagim
Parshas Re'eh: Why Tzedaka In The Name Of Rebbi Meir Baal HaNes?

Turnisrufus the Rasha asked Rebbi Akiva, if your Hashem loves poor people so much why does he not give them money to sustain themselves?  Rebbi Akiva answered that Hashem does this to save us from Gehinom (Bava Basra 10a).

He explained with a Mashal of a King who became very angry with his son and had him thrown into jail.  He ordered the guards not to give him anything to eat or drink.  Along came a man who pitied the kings son and risked his life to give the prince food and water.  Rebbi Akiva asked, would the king not send this savior a great gift?  We are the children of the Hashem, said Rebbi Akiva.  Surely Hashem is very thankful when we give his hungry children food.  The gemara continues and says that we are called sons and we are called slaves.  When we do Hashem's will we are His children.  When we don't, we are called His slaves.

The gemara in Kedushin says that this point is a machlokes between Rebbi Yehuda who agrees that we are called slaves when we do not act up to par, and Rebbi Meir that says that no matter what we do, we are always called the children of Hashem.  

Based on this the Ben Ish Chai brings from the Emes L'Yaakov, that when we give tzedaka we give it in the name of Rebbi Meir Baal HaNes.  If the whole reason to give tzedaka is to make Hashem happy that we are sustaining his children, this would only apply if the poor person is doing the will of Hashem.  If he is not, Rebbi Yehuda says that he is called Hashem's slave.  We want our tzedaka to help Hashem's children, and only according to Rebbi Meir is every poor person Hashem's child, even if he is not performing the mitzvos as commanded.

This week in Parshas Re'eh the torah commands us to open our hearts and wallets to the poor.  Don't deprive Hashm's children!

RELATED ARTICLES:Rav Meir Baal HaNes  Rebbi Akiva  tzedaka

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