Still Alive!

Tomorrow is the Seventh day of the month of Adar. This day has significance because it is the Yahrzait of our leader Moshe. Moshe passed away a little more than a month before the Jews entered the land of Israel under the leadership of Yehoshua.

We are not the only ones who keep tabs on the dates of the passing of our leaders. The ones who hate us the most, such as Haman, also knew when Moshe passed away. The Talmud relates that when Haman drew lots to determine the month when he should annihilate the Jews, he was excited when the lot fell in the month of Adar. He knew that their leader Moshe passed away in Adar and figured the Mazal of the Jews was weakened and he would succeed. The Talmud relates that what Haman did not know, was that Moshe was born on the Seventh of Adar as well. Our salvation and victory in the Purim story which occurred in the month of Adar, has caused Adar to become a most festive, happy and upbeat month.

Although Moshe was physically taken from us, when we study and observe the Mitzvos of the Torah that he taught the Jewish people, he lives within each of us every day and throughout our day.

The Torah tells us that Moshe passed away on Har Nevo and was buried in the section of land on the east of the Jordan that was allotted to the tribe of Gad. No one knows where his actual grave is; it is one of the things G-d wished to be hidden from us.

In a week from Friday we will celebrate the festive holiday of Purim. One of the special Mitzvos on Purim is to give monetary gifts to the poor. Generally speaking, a person in need of assistance is embarrassed when he asks for help. Purim is a time when people give freely and thus one is not inhibited to ask. Shulchan Aruch – our code of law states, “Purim is a time when one gives without questioning the legitimacy of the receiver – ‘Give to anyone who stretches out his hand.’”

There is a beautiful extension to this phrase. An aspect of Purim which is not well known, is that it is a special time for prayer – for the prayers of the Jews during the Purim events brought about G-d’s salvation.

King David expressed his prayers with raising his hands. Thus on Purim, “Anyone who stretches out his hands – in prayer to G-d – no questions asked – G-d will just give!”

Getting back to the tribe of Gad’s area where Moshe was buried.

The two Hebrew letters that make up the word Gad are Gimel and Daled. The Talmud explains that there are lessons to be learned from the order of pairs of letters of the Aleph Bais. In the paired letters, Gimel & Daled, (which also make up the name, Gad,) the letter Gimel stands for Gemilas Chasadim – loving kindness – and the letter Daled, whose root is Dal – refers to a poor person.

The shape of the letter Gimel has a foot outstretched towards the letter Daled. The Gimel/provider is figuratively running forward to help the Daled/poor.

The form of the letter Daled has most of its arm facing away from the Gimel and only a short stub faces the direction of the Gimel. The Daled’s arm facing away from the Gimel displays the poor person’s embarrassment to take, and the short stub towards the Gimel/provider indicates that he makes himself readily available for the provider to assist.

There are two ways of giving Tzadaka, one is in a quiet and unassuming way, and the other is to receive recognition and public honor for the contribution. Each way has its drawbacks. If one gives quietly, people might assume he doesn’t give, and may not be motivated to give themselves. Yet when one gives openly and receives accolades, he is at risk of becoming arrogant.

So which way should a person choose?

The Bobover Rebbe, Rabbi Shlomo Halbershtam o.b.m. quotes a source that points out, when the tribe of Gad/the giver is counted in the Torah, the name of the first family listed, is Tzafoni – Tzafon means hidden.

The second family listed is Chagi, whose root is the word Chag – holiday, which implies celebration and pomp.

Thus, we see hinted in the first two names of Gad a representation of the two approaches toward Tzadaka. They both are necessary for Tzadaka to be given and received.

It all depends on the situation on hand. One must look at the nature of the one giving and the one receiving and take into account the sensitive nature of those who are on the receiving end.

The Seventh day of Adar has an added reason for celebration in our family. Our youngest child was born on Zayin Adar, and yes, his name is Moshe!