At the time of the birth of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, the Baal Shem Tov remarked that "a great and holy soul has been born into this world who will be an eloquent advocate for the Jewish people." Rabbi Levi Yitzchak loved every Jew, no matter their religious observance. Throughout his life, he frequently prayed to G‑d to bless a childless couple, to provide a livelihood for a poverty stricken family or to annul an evil decree. Thousands came to hear his Torah explanations and to seek his blessings or advice.

One member, a rather wealthy man, took the floorWhen the community members of Berditchev came to invite Rabbi Levi Yitzchak to assume the position of rav, head rabbi, the saintly man had one request. "Please do not trouble me with communal meetings," he said. "However, if the meeting is about enacting a new ordinance, I would like to be involved."

The agreement was made and much joy and celebration pervaded the city of Berdichev. It was no small matter to have the illustrious tzaddik, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak, accept the post of rav in their city.

Some time after the sage had donned the mantle of leadership, the community members appeared at the rabbi's door. "At tonight's meeting we would like to ordain a new regulation," they declared. Naturally, the rabbi agreed to attend the gathering.

In the elegant reception room where the members had gathered, the serious mood was laced with joy for the rabbi was present.

Then the formalities began. One member, a rather wealthy man, took the floor. "All of us here," he began, "are involved in important issues, each in our own way." His eyes scanned the faces around him, all wearing looks of obvious agreement.

"However," he continued. "The constant knocking on our doors by the numerous paupers that populate our town disturbs our peace and interrupts our busy schedules. Therefore, we would like to initiate a new ruling. From this time forth, it will be forbidden for a poor man to knock on doors. Certainly, we will keep in mind the needs of these unfortunate souls. We will not forsake them. But to make it more convenient for us, we will distribute to the paupers a sum of money each month which we will take from the community treasury."

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak suddenly rose from his chair, gathered his hat and jacket and began to leave. The others exchanged surprised looks with one another. "Is the Rabbi leaving?" they politely inquired.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak nodded.

"But… but the meeting has hardly begun," they protested.

Stunned silence reigned in the parlorSilently, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak studied the expectant faces. "My brothers!" he said in a respectful tone of voice. "Did we not agree that I was not to be burdened with discussions of old policies?"

"Yes, yes, so we agreed," they cried out in unison. "But this is not old. What we're suggesting is a completely novel approach. By all means, this is a new regulation!"

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak sadly shook his head from side to side. "But this is nothing new," he said. "What you're proposing is an ancient law. As a matter of fact, this policy dates back thousands of years to the time of Sodom and Gomorra. They too instituted such laws. Forbidding people to distribute charity to itinerant beggars…" the rabbi sighed. "My brothers, no, there's nothing new about that…"

Stunned silence reigned in the parlor. Needless to say, the proposal was cancelled. The wealthy men internalized the lesson well. The poor men who knocked at their doors from then on were welcomed with genuine respect and kindness.