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The kabbalists explain that there are three ways to connect and draw Light from righteous souls who have left this world: visiting their resting place, reading from their words of wisdom, or reading stories about them. With each story read we not only draw from the Light that these righteous souls revealed, but also the gift of the lesson taught by that kabbalist.
Hundreds of years ago, in a small village near Krakow, Poland, lived a man named Yosele the Miser. He was the stingiest person in all of Poland, perhaps even in all of Europe. He was wealthy beyond measure but used to chase off the poor from his property. He’d spit in their face and slam doors. He was widely hated by the entire community, so much so that when he died, they didn't even bury him properly. His body was simply tossed over the fence into the cemetery, left for the vultures. A guy like him didn't deserve a proper burial.
A few days after his death, all the poor people in all of the neighboring villages came to the leader with a complaint. Every Friday, for as long as they could remember, they would receive an anonymous envelope with exactly the amount of money they needed for Shabbat. But this week, they didn't receive anything, and how would they prepare for Shabbat now? What were they to do to connect to this holy energy if they couldn’t afford food to eat?
It didn't take everyone long for everyone to figure out that Yosele the Miser had been the anonymous envelope giver. He wanted to make sure no one ever found out. He looked for no recognition and had no agenda. His sharing was 100% real, and it didn’t matter to him what people thought. This alone is what allowed his soul to transcend to such great heights.
Of course, he was given a proper burial after, but even his tombstone is modest and difficult to find in the old cemetery of Krakow. Even in death, he wanted no recognition.
We don’t need to live our life in ostracization, but perhaps we can all take a closer look at how we give and how often we turn around to see who’s noticed. Maybe next time we want to take credit for something, we hold back our tongue. As the Zohar in Ki Tisa says, “Blessings can only rest in a place that is concealed from the eye.”
May the merit of Yosele the Holy Miser awaken our desire to give those in need and reduce the voice of the ego that desires recognition in the process.
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