His Dedication to Charity and His Passing

Click here for Hebrew text.

The Yahrzeit of Reb Yitzchak of Neshchiz (1790?–1868) is commemorated on the 21st of Shvat. The following praise of his works appeared in Sefer HaHasidut, Meah Tzadikim, Raphael, Yitzchak, 1961, Tel Aviv. (Freely translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman.)

His Dedication to Charity

Maot chitin, (or kimcha d’Pischa, i.e., money for making Matzah), was sent to several towns, even to the town of Byelsk, which is very far from here (Neshchiz).

In the early years, he, himself, wrote the record of the Tzedakah that was given, e.g. like this:

Baruch Hashem, Parashat Vayikra, I gave thirteen silver roubles. In addition, eleven and a half silver roubles. In addition, one silver rouble, one gold, etc.

Parashat Behaalotecha, twenty silver roubles, sixty-three silver roubles, etc.

Parashat Vayigash, twenty-four silver roubles, one hundred eight silver roubles, etc.”

And in the middle of his ledger were found also a little bit entered in the handwriting of his Shammos according to his own reckonings.

From the year 5626 and thereafter, they started to write in another ledger, in the same manner as above, a record of the monies, omitting the names of the recipients. From that time, he had left off writing in his own hand, however, others wrote the name of the recipient of the Tzedakah in another place and the sum of how much he received to the nearest rouble.

Smaller than this was given from a Tzedakah pouch, into which they were placing, several times a week, some small rouble coins but, it was not recorded; they were only notating that some amount was placed into the Tzedakah pouch.

He was meticulous and calculated the sum total for the week, and one saw in the ledger, in detail, how much was given to a particular recipient, that it was in a particular week, and how much should be given to him now, and also how much to his relatives. And he was careful not to add to or reduce the estimated need as it appeared in his eyes for giving the person.

During Parashat Bo 5627 he wrote another entry in his holy hand, some specific Tzedakah in the mentioned small-change ledger, and afterwards, in the year 5628, while struggling with his weakness, in the week of Parshat Beshalach, some ten days before his death, while lying on his bed, he called one time for the small-change ledger to be brought to him and he wrote in it an entry of the Tzedakah with these words:

Parashat Beshalach seven silver roubles,”

and in the  second line, for the pouch,

“Five silver roubles, God protect us, for the Tzedakah pouch”.

And they implored him: “Behold sir!” There is no longer strength in him that he should write by his reckoning.

And he said that he had a taste for this, that he wanted to write himself.

More he did not write, although he requested of another to write the Tzedakah of that week and also Tzedakah of the week of Parashat Yitro until the last day, for he did not stop speaking of Tzedakah, saying that it was a Mitzvah to give.

In the week of Yitro, he did not also get to record the sum total for that week in the “prayer-note ledger”, for on Erev Shabbos Kodesh / before Shabbos, his eternal light departed.

And it was customary for him to care for the people of our town with a loving act of kindness up to fifty roubles per person, (some were paid up to one rouble per week), each one according to his need, in conjunction with the Tzedakah which was distributed to the poor of the city. And it was also for religious instruction for the children of the poor. And also for candles for the poor for Shabbos. And also bread for the poor of the town every week taking into account the fluctuations in price. And he raised up to twenty roubles a week for our town alone, definitely this was the minimum needed, not counting the bread which was paid for by him to the baker costing ten roubles per week, not including the first days of Yom Tov or the last days of Yom Tov. And so too, on Hanukkah and Purim he raised up every “prayer-note” entry in his book with a value of fifty roubles for our town alone, not counting the rest of the things he had his hands in or others had their hands in, for example, helping cover costs for a bride to get married and all kinds of Mitzvot that were in the town, there was not one in which he did not have a part, he was involved in most all of them. He also wanted to benefit the people of the town, that they should be assisted in doing the Mitzvot, however, most every Mitzvah was done by them without his help.

It was his practice to, himself, audit a few times a year, the allocations of the Tzedakah within the town. He would sit by himself and compute with great precision, the sum of the “prayer-notes” of Tzedakah which had to be distributed for Shabbos or Yom Tov and this was, for him, a labor of love.

He (zl) recorded with his holy hand on the table in white marks in the old methods of accounting with markings of lines and circles, and he was so involved with this activity that, although he sometimes had to delay the time they would start the prayers, it didn’t concern him.

Once he counted money to give them for Tzedakah and someone who was serving him asked:

“Behold, if sir doesn’t have strength, I will count for him.”

And he said:

“I will count by myself, for the Mitzvah in doing is greater than in delegating.”

And he added:

“The commandment of Hashem is clear, enlightening the eyes, for through doing the Mitzvah the eyes obtain a new spiritual light.”

(Good Memory of Tzedakah).

One Response to “His Dedication to Charity and His Passing”

  1. Monique~Miriam Says:

    To day, I learned. From the ways of Reb Yitzchak of Neshchiz (1790?-1868) I learned that — at least in the field of tzeddakah — the mitzvah in doing is greater than in delegating.

    “I will count by myself, for the Mitzvah in doing is greater than in delegating.”
    Reb Yitzchak of Neshchiz

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