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Dear G-d, you created many poor people...

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein


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Freud never mentions it, but it is common knowledge that somewhere within the human psyche is a little (bearded man dressed in peasant clothes named) Tevye, which pops up every once in a while and tries to understand why G-d does what He does.

Poor and rich, wise and foolish, knowledgeable and ignorant, healthy and ill, intellectual and emotional, introvert and extrovert, male and female, humorous and serious, strong and weak... these are just some of the many examples of variances in G-d’s creation which often prompt us to ask why G-d created the way He did? Couldn’t we all have the right words to say when we need to speak up, and have the wisdom to know when to remain silent? Couldn’t we all be strong, healthy, and wise? Did G-d really have to create two genders and cause so much friction and competition between the two?

And then there is the original Tevye, a pitiable countryman, who simply wants to know why G-d created poor people! Tevye of course acknowledges that there is nothing wrong with being poor, he just can’t figure out the need for all the suffering. It seems illogical to him that G-d would create a man only to have him suffer.

The necessity to give is more important than the necessity to take
But did G-d really create the poor so that they would suffer? Was it G-d’s intention that the needy be deprived?

Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov taught that there is a lesson to be learned from all of life’s phenomena. A young disciple once asked the older sage, what then must we learn from a heretic.

The wise teacher explained to the curious student: upon seeing one who is suffering the viewer might be tempted to turn a blind eye and say G-d will surely help. He mustn’t do this, said the Baal Shem Tov, he must learn from the heretic not to depend on a higher being, rather he must say to himself the buck stops here -- if my fellow needs help it is up to me to help him.

You see, the pauper isn’t meant to suffer; he is actually meant to live well, and this is supposed to happen through your support. In return for your support he has something incredible to give. He provides you with a channel to properly spend your money.

Were it not for the pauper, money would simply be a paper of vanity. Inasmuch as there are people in need, your hard earned money becomes a source of life. Subsequently the time you spend earning that money is time spent enhancing, and even saving, life. No, G-d didn’t create the pauper to have him suffer; He created him to give meaning to your wealth. And He created your wealth to eliminate the poor man’s poverty.

There is an interesting statement found in the Talmud: “More than the calf wants to suckle, the cow wants to nurse.” Upon deeper analysis, this ordinary saying becomes a profound message: it is quite obvious that if one refuses to receive that which he lacks he will remain hungry, deprived, ignorant, and devoid. However one might think that if one is complete he has no needs for others. Hence the Talmud informs us that the necessity to give is more important than the necessity to take.


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Philosophy » Pain and Suffering

Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Baal Shem Tov
Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), Polish mystic and founder of the Chassidic movement.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.