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Our Sages Showed the Way


by Yocheved Segal


200 Airport Executive Park
Spring Valley, N.Y. 10977

Originally published in Hebrew as
Ko asu chachomeinu
Copyright © 1976 by Moreshet




Binyamin the Tzaddik 


There was once a righteous man, a
tzaddik, whose name was Binya-
min. He devoted his life to doing
kind deeds and giving tzedakah.
That's why everyone called him Binyamin the
Tzaddik. People knew he was trustworthy, hon-
est, and extremely meticulous about observing
the mitzvoth, so they appointed him the trea-
surer of the city's tzedakah fund. His task was
to collect money from those who contributed
tzedakah, and then distribute it among the

One year, there was a severe drought. Food
became so expensive that many people could
not afford to purchase it. So they came to

Binyamin had always helped everyone who
turned to him. But now, there were so many
poor and so little money, for very few people
could still afford to donate to tzedakah. One
day there was not even a prutah — not a single
penny — left in the fund.

That very day, a destitute widow came seek-
ing assistance. She was pale and weak and
could barely walk. With slow, labored steps, she
approached Binyamin the Tzaddik. With tears
in her eyes, she pleaded, "Rabi, support us!
Please give us some money to buy bread or
flour. I have seven sons, orphans, and we are all

Binyamin was very upset. "What a pity you
didn't come sooner!" he sighed. "Now that the
tzedakah fund is empty, what can I do to help

"Rabi, if you won't provide for me, my seven
sons and I will starve to death!" the woman
cried. "We haven't a morsel of food in the house.
We have not eaten for days and we cannot bear
to suffer any more!"

Binyamin saw how distraught the poor
woman was and he knew that she was telling
the truth. Her life and the lives of her children
were in danger. Could he allow them to starve
to death, God forbid?

Binyamin was not a wealthy man, nor did
he have much to eat himself. But, despite this,
he decided to support the widow and her seven
sons from his own resources. He gave them
some of his bread, while he himself managed
with even less. Binyamin continued to provide
for the woman and her children during the
entire drought, until Hashem had mercy and
showered rain upon the land. Once the produce
sprouted in the fields, bread became less expen-
sive, and even the needy could afford it. By that
time, the widow was able to support herself.

Time passed, and Binyamin the Tzaddik fell
dangerously ill. The doctors could not cure him,
and he was nearing death. But the angels in
Heaven intervened. They came before Hashem
and pleaded.

"Master of the Universe! In your Torah, we
learn that all of mankind is descended from
only one man, from Adam. This teaches us that
when one saves a single human life, it is as if he
had saved the entire world. The Torah teaches
only the Truth! So, why should Binyamin the
Tzaddik, who is so young, die? After all, he
saved not one life, but eight lives — the lives of
the widow and her seven sons!"

Hashem heard the angels' plea and granted
Binyamin another twenty-two years of life —
one year for each letter of the Torah's aleph-

Binyamin the Tzaddik was saved through
the merit of keeping the Torah's command-
ments so selflessly.

Talmud Bavli, Bava Bathra lla.

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