"The hollow (kaf) of his thigh — this represents
those who support Torah." The explanation is as follows:
Eisov's angel wrestled with Yaakov Ovinu over the blessings.
Yaakov argued that they rightfully belonged to him, since it
was his sons who would receive the Torah and study it.
Eisov's angel could not refute this, which the Torah
testifies as, "And he saw that he could not best him." But he
did say that at the end of the exile, that is, right before
the dawn, there would come a time when the majority of the
Jewish people would grow very lax in their maintenance of
Torah scholars and correspondingly, Torah study would
Why is this likened to the hollow of the thighbone? Because
just as the thigh holds up the entire body, so do those who
financially support the scholars enable them to continue
The deeds and experiences of our Ovos are signposts
for what will happen to their descendants. Yaakov's victory
shows that Torah will never altogether budge from amongst the
coming generations, despite all the affliction and torture.
On the contrary, Yaakov emerges victorious and even rises to
a higher status (Chofetz Chaim al haTorah, Parshas
"And a Man Wrestled with Him"
What is good for the evil angel Sam. [we are not allowed to
mention his full name, so evil is he] is bad for
tzaddikim. This advantage of his comes from the
malicious blow he inflicted upon Yaakov, intending to
incapacitate him, as it is written, "And Yaakov's thighbone
became disjointed when he wrestled with him." Not when Eisov
embraced Yaakov, but when he fought with him.
Hashem accepted the self-imposed restriction of the
descendants of Yaakov not to eat the thigh section of an
animal which contains the sciatica, the site where Yaakov was
injured. Its supernal application is to teach us, for all
generations to come, not to benefit from the so-called favors
of this guardian angel of Eisov which cause Yaakov to limp
and whose source is self-interest, to cause the Torah fall
into disuse and to be forgotten among his descendants.
(HaRav Zalman Sorotzkin: Hadei'oh veHadibbur)
The Regulations of `Shekel Hakodesh'
On Erev Rosh Chodesh Elul of 5685 (1925), the Chofetz Chaim
and HaRav Chaim Ozer ztvk'l issued a public
declaration regarding the charity boxes of Vaad Hayeshivos.
In order to ease the payment of the sum, it was agreed that
pushkes would be installed in every beis
knesses so that Jews everywhere could give their
respective donations. By steady donation of small sums,
especially before candlelighting on erev Shabbos and
erev Yomtov, these charity boxes would fill up the
coffers of the Vaad Hayeshivos.
At the end of each half year, on Purim and on Erev Yom
Kippur, these would be opened by the local representatives
and the one in charge of the boxes. The sums would be duly
recorded, determining what amount was still lacking, if any,
from the overall communal commitment, which would then be
Maran HaRav Zalman Sorotzkin addressed this takonoh in
one of his public addresses, saying, "According to the
directive instituted by the leaders of our times, headed by
Maran the Chofetz Chaim shlita, a duty [head tax]
amounting to two dollars a year per capita has been imposed
for the maintenance of the Vaad Hayeshivos. And what do we
see? That even this paltry support is difficult to collect,
all due to the struggle against the angel Sam-l . . . The
yeshivos are at the brink of actual starvation. Woe unto us
that this is the situation! Woe unto us if the dictum of `If
there is no flour, there is no Torah' is realized here and
How Does One Collect Tzedokoh?
Maran R' Eliyohu Dessler zt'l writes: There exists a
very prevalent and practical problem: how should a person
successfully solicit funds for any given charitable cause or
for the support of Torah?
The fundraiser should be very careful that his efforts be
purely for the benefit of the giver, that is, that the donor
should acquire the merit of support for Torah. He must be
careful at all times to benefit the donor with the spiritual
rewards of his gift. If he acts accordingly and his
intentions are the best, surely Hashem will assist him in
achieving this goal (Michtav MeEliyohu).
Legions for the Sake of the Yeshiva
The financial circumstances of Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin were
critical. HaRav Meir Shapira worked on negotiating a loan of
fifty thousand guldens to extricate the yeshiva from its
desperate condition but the situation was precarious: would
the loan be approved or not? Meanwhile, the creditors were
pressing with increasing force and R' Meir was greatly
He decided that three options lay before him: Either to
collapse and to die chas vesholom, to closet himself
in a room and weep, or to flee across the ocean and go
begging for help. Actually, he had previously decided not to
travel again to raise funds since he had already exhausted
himself in the past, and who would stand at the helm of his
precious yeshiva in the interim?
Said R' Meir: "I wish to be with my talmidim. When the
yeshiva was being constructed and it encountered terrible
financial difficulties, I said to myself: How can I die at
this point? And now that the yeshiva stands and operates, I
say to myself in moments of hopelessness and despair: How can
I live this way?"
In the end, the crisis passed, the loan was approved and R'
Meir wept and said that he had lived through the
posuk, "`For You have succored my soul from death, my
eyes from weeping, my soul from oppression' (Tehillim
116:8). I have been spared all the three options and live on
. . . "
Three Weddings in One Day
A rich man once came to visit HaRav Yechezkel Abramsky
zt'l, who asked him if he had come to Eretz Yisroel
for a special reason.
"Yes, for the wedding of a close relative," was the reply.
"Where is the wedding taking place?"
"In the So-and-so hall."
"How many guests were invited?"
The visitor quoted a number.
"How much does each portion cost?"
The visitor named a sum. The full total came out to an
"Now you understand what a great financial burden a rosh
yeshiva is faced with. He must pay for the cost of three
weddings a day, so to speak, to feed his hundreds of
talmidim . . . " (Pninei Rabbenu Yechezkel)
"Borrow from Me and I Will Pay You Back"
Maran the Ponovezher Rov zt'l was not fazed by the
burden of the millions of dollars which were needed to meet
the budget for all his many communal activities. He continued
to borrow huge sums without any concern.
His son, R' Avrohom, once asked him, "Are you relying on the
famous bottomless and miraculous cruse of oil to refill
itself all the time, just like with Ovadia's widow?"
"Yes!" was the emphatic reply, and he added, "Anyone who is
incapable of relying on the quote, `Borrow on My account and
I will repay you,' will never build a yeshiva. If this is
what Hashem declares, the money is as good as deposited in
the bank, in your very account!"
How Can the Yeshivos Continue to Exist?
HaRav Eliyohu Dessler zt'l relates that at one major
meeting someone got up and suggested that the yeshivos could
not possibly continue to exist. They would have to collapse
at some future time since they had no natural financial basis
to carry on. Their survival is always tenuous and
His uncle, HaRav Chaim Ozer zt'l, replied in his
stead, "Don't worry! In fact, this is precisely how it has to
be! The Torah must perforce exist by way of miracle; it has
no natural, normal basis in this world."
Maran the Chofetz Chaim also came to the defense and was
uneasy about the idea of establishing a standing fund which
would provide ongoing dividends to keep the yeshivos going.
He said, "On the contrary, the very money that you wish to
seal off as the principal so as to provide a constant income
can be put to far better use in increasing Torah immediately,
here and now!"
Would You Like to Transform an Apikores into a
At the dedication ceremony of Yeshivas Ohr Yisroel in Petach
Tikvah, HaRav Yaakov Neiman zt'l announced: "If you
would like to transform an apikores into a believer,
bring him and install him as the administrator of a yeshiva!
The continued existence of any yeshiva, from the day it is
founded and ever onward — is a living example of
Hashem's continued Providence. It is a pure miracle."
When R' Yaakov once needed a large sum of money to cover a
debt, there suddenly came a knock at the door. In walked a
stranger who said, "I am interested in donating money to the
yeshiva." Occurrences such as this were a common feature of
R' Yaakov Neiman's daily life!
A Delay before the Chuppah
One of the major contributors to Yeshivas Torah Vodaas in
America was about to marry off his daughter. Several moments
before the chuppah itself, the father said that he was
not yet ready to proceed with the ceremony. He summoned
several members of the yeshiva's board of trustees to a side
room and said to them:
"How dare I lead my daughter under the chuppah at a
time when the maggidei shiur of the yeshiva have not
yet received their salary?" The trustees were astonished at
his sensitivity and concern at this very momentous occasion
in his life. On the spot, they determined between themselves
to donate the missing sum to cover those wages.
To Whom Does the Yeshiva Belong?
We pray, "May we not have to rely on the munificence of
mortal man, nor on their loans."
"This," said HaRav Mordechai Shulman zt'l, "refers to
monetary gifts and loans within the parameters of Torah laws,
according to all the halachic rules of chessed. And of
this did Chazal say that it is a sign of disgrace and
indignity forever after."
Thus there is a terrible discredit and humiliation involved
in being on the receiving end in any case. How much more so
for one who needs to `beg' for help.
A need, a lack, is a decree from Heaven. Is it, then, any
wonder that when one needs the help of mortal man to complete
what Hashem, Himself, has not provided it is, indeed, an
eternal source of shame? And how much more so if one actually
has to go and `beg' for that help, to announce his lack and
show it to all.
The Spiritual Mother of Knesses Yisroel
There is one aspect of our personal avodas Hashem
which is the most ignored, and that is activity for the sake
of Torah, concern that Torah be planted everywhere. The
dissemination of Torah is almost totally ignored. Why is this
so? Why is it that a call to arms for any other cause arouses
an active public response — but not for the
strengthening of Torah study?
However, it is precisely this sad state of affairs which
produces hope, for we always see that there do exist among
the ranks of the Torah-true Jewry those who are blessed with
financial means, who do rally to this cause and feel the
pain. They are few, but their hearts ache for Torah and they
understand why Hashem blessed them with their wealth. They
regard their success in life as an obligation to support the
prime cause of Torah study. They realize that this is their
purpose in life and the goal of their wealth.
Does no one within our ranks care for this spiritual `Mother
of Knesses Yisroel'? The Torah is the virtual Tree of Life to
all those who support it, and these benefactors are blessedly
fortunate! (HaRav Shamshon Rafael Hirsch zt'l: Maagolei
HaShonoh II 148;155)
Watch Out for the Poor
HaRav Yechezkel Sarna zt'l writes: I know that Torah
is not to be considered a luxury that one can afford only
when one has the means. On the contrary, always, throughout
all the generations, it was the poor who supported Torah.
They respected our rabbis and teachers and aided them to
their best ability; likewise, worthy women scrimped and saved
from their daily expenses to support Torah.
Look out for the poor, since they are the supporters of
Torah. It was not the fattened purses which supplied support,
but the open pulsing hearts. It may be that the purses of
those hearts suffered, but the hearts gave willingly.
Torah is compared both to vintage wine, to bread and to
water. Torah maintenance is similar. One finds support for
Torah from wealth and expanse, which is like wine. There is
support coming from the poor, who must stint from their own
expenses, but give willingly for Torah. That is like bread.
Then there are those who give in the worst financial
condition, whose support is compared to water, which is the
basic staple for all life.