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Jewish Personalities

Give And Let Give

He insisted on paying the entire amount, wanting the whole mitzvah for himself

Give And Let Give

When Reb Yonasan Eibishitz got married, he received 3,000 gold coins as a gift from his father-in-law in order to be able to learn without having to worry about parnasah. Reb Yonasan put the money to good use, sitting and studying with a chavrusa all day in shul. One day his chavrusa was thrown into prison because of a run-in he’d had with local non-Jews. The Jews of the town did everything they could to have him released, but the authorities refused. A short time later the non-Jewish prison guard paid a visit to the rosh hakahal’s house to inform him that the Jew was scheduled to be executed in two days’ time. However, he offered him a proposal: For a payment of 3,000 gold coins he would set the Jew free and lead him to safety. The rosh hakahal agreed and immediately set about trying to collect this vast sum of money, going from door to door. When Reb Yonasan was approached, he took out the gold coins he’d been given by his father-in-law and insisted on paying the guard the entire amount, refusing to accept the 50 gold coins the rosh hakahal had managed to scrounge up from the town’s Jews who wished to have a part in redeeming the captive. RebYonasan wanted the whole mitzvah for himself. He did not inform his wife about what he had done. However, he was afraid of his wife’s reaction when she learned that he had given away the money that was meant for them to live on. He left town for a few days, hoping that by the time he returned, she would already have found out and calmed down. When the gentiles saw that the Jew wasn’t in prison, they immediately suspected the guard of releasing him.

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The guard knew he had to flee, but first he had to put the money somewhere safe. He went to Reb Yonasan’s house and knocked on the door.When Reb Yonasan’s wife opened it, he handed her a bag of coins and explained that he had just recently made her husband’s acquaintance and found him to be an extremely trustworthy individual, figuring that anyone who was willing to pay so much for the release of a friend was obviously of high moral character. The guard was therefore entrusting him with all of his money before temporarily leaving town. If he did not return to claim it, the rabbi could keep it. A few days later the guard was caught by a vengeful mob and killed.When Reb Yonasan returned home, his wife greeted him with a huge smile on her face, explaining that they had somehow ended up with a huge bag of gold coins in their possession. When Reb Yonasan heard this, he was devastated. He saw it as a punishment that Hashem did not want his mitzvah and had returned the money. He fasted for three days and was informed from Above that because he hadn’t allowed anyone to have a share in his mitzvah, his money had been returned. Give and let give.