Monday, May 27, 2024

Chagigah 9: Forged in Poverty

On this daf, we find that Hashem chose us with the furnace of poverty.

Reb Chaim of Kiblitch, a fiery chossid, was very poor. His home was small and never had heat. He and his family survived the icy Ukrainian winters with great difficulty.

Strangely, despite his poverty and insufficient winter gear, he never went into any house that had heating. While most people went out of their way to get a little relief from the bitter cold, Reb Chaim waited outside even if the homeowner invited him in.

Whenever he was asked about this, Reb Chaim gave an answer that revealed his high degree of self-awareness and personal ethics. “I can’t afford to heat my own home. Like most people in my position, I would certainly appreciate a good thawing-out that could be achieved so easily by just stepping into my friend’s heated home. But it is also forbidden to covet what other people have. I’m afraid that when I warm up in someone else’s house, I’ll have trouble keeping from feeling that I would give anything to live there. That’s why I decline such invitations” (Siach Sarfei Kodesh).

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