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Tzedakah Stories

The Child and the Slave
Turnus Rufus asked Rabbi Akiva: “If your G-d loves the poor, why doesn’t He feed them?”
Six Hundred Dinars Minus Six
"Give with an open hand," Rabbi Shimon adjured. "Don't worry about tomorrow, G-d will provide. And most important: write it all down. Every penny you give, write it down and carry the list with you at all times..."
The Snake in the Wall
“On the day your daughter enters the bridal chamber,” the astrologers said to Rabbi Akiva, “a snake will bite her and she will die.”
Forty-Three Rubles
Zvi Elimelech's father pulled the boy aside and told him that he must promise never to tell anyone this story until the very last day of his life
The Yom Kippur Drunk
The scandalized crowd was about to eject the man from the synagogue, when the Rebbe turned from the wall and said: "Let him be. For us, Yom Kippur is just beginning, but for him, it's already Simchat Torah He's there already"
The Rusty Penny
It seems that this stingy man, despite his considerable wealth, was loath to share his blessings, no matter how worthy or urgent the cause. Rabbis and beggars alike avoided his home.
The Czar's Rubles
A Russian peasant once said to his friend: "You know, Ivan, I have been thinking, it is really very stupid for us to pay taxes to the Czar."
A Door on the East
The rebbe took the gold coin, wedged it in a crack in the wall next to his desk, and said no more.
Herschel Goat
“When I was a young man of twenty,” the Baal Shem Tov began his story, “shortly after being accepted in the society of hidden tzaddikim, several of us came to the city of Brody . . .”
The Popular Names of the Town's Kids
As they walked, they came across a group of children playing in the sand. The Baal Shem Tov went over to them and said to the nearest one, “What is your name?”
Seventy Kopeks
That's the profit from the sale of a calf in the marketplace of the White Russian town of Lubavitch
A Plate of Food
The Jews of Vitebsk, if you want to know the truth, were never known to be generous givers of money to charitable causes. But they could always be counted on to provide food for the hungry.
The Czar’s Army’s Iron Pots
The rebbe’s youngest son, Shmuel, who was seven years old at the time, wandered around the room, talking to the men who sat tearfully reading Tehillim as they waited to be received by his father . . .
The Meeting
“Hundreds of mitzvot were about to be performed in Shchedrin! Never mind the eighteen rubles that will be raised—considering the sums of money that the yetzer hara deals with, this is a mere pittance. But the mitzvot . . . !”
Charity Wars
“Every act of charity is a victory over our selfish nature,” explained the chassid. “I just can’t resist the opportunity to score two victories for the price of one . . .”
Elijah the Prophet in Minsk
A chassid went to the Baal Shem Tov in Mezhibuzh. “Rebbe,” he said, “I want to see Elijah the Prophet . . .”
Impeccable Logic
“I accept that my business failure is punishment for deserting you,” he cried to Reb Zushe, “but why? What was wrong with my logic?”
Music at the Rabbi’s Funeral
At one point during the trip, the horse suddenly changed course and took her own route, going back in the direction from where they had come.
When the Town Robber Gave Charity
As she was washing, a known local robber and swindler swiped the ring and ran off... She shrieked that the robber just made off with her ring. "It is worth 100 coins!"
The Bloodless Challah
One Friday, a beggar came and asked for a piece of bread. But the Rebbe's wife had only whole challahs in the house – challah that she had just baked in honor of the Shabbat...
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