Money for Wheat

Shalom aleichem!

The Baal Shem Tov taught that we must learn from everything that happens in the world. After all, with billions of people and even more animals, plants etc., I am actually entirely unaware of most of what happens in the world. Thus, if something comes into my purview, it is an indication that I was meant to see (or hear etc.) that thing, in order to glean a lesson from it.

This concept is certainly applicable when it comes to Jewish laws and teachings. With Passover nearly upon us, I would like to focus on a very important custom and its message. (The following sentences are paraphrased from a letter the Rebbe wrote in 1955).

There is an old custom, firmly anchored in the Code of Jewish Law, to give charity to assist the poor with the expenses of the Seder, matzah etc. This special charity is called Maos Chittim (literally, “money for wheat”).

In fact, this charitable giving is actually part of the preparation for the Seder, which begins with the invitation, “Let all those who are hungry come and eat.” After all, if we wait until we’re sitting around our beautiful Seder table with family and friends before we invite the poor, it’s a bit late, isn’t it?

Now, whether in material or spiritual matters, our people are inextricably interwoven and interconnected. It is simply impossible for us to experience the freedom of Passover without first doing everything in our power to ensure that another person will also be able to celebrate the Seder.

In order for me to live the freedom of Passover, I need to first make sure that another person can also be free. And that is why we give Maos Chittim before Passover: Helping another person achieve freedom is the only way that I myself can become free.