Parshas Re'eh
Deuteronomy 11:26 - 16:17

Jewish Charity, A Light for the Poor ©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk


This study of mysticism in Hebrew Gematria is dedicated in the loving memory of Mr. Gary Lee Belk and Mr. Donald Wayne Belk may they rest in peace.

When we consider the plight of the extremely poor and of the poor, one word stands out, Ehv Yoon, meaning: poor, needy, beggar, destitute, pauper, miserable, wretched. Parshas Re'eh speaks to us about such a desperate condition.

Have you wondered, "What is it like to be poor?" What is it like to be destitute?" What is it like to beg for food and shelter?" What is it like to have NO WEALTH? What is it like to lack the basic resources of life? How does it feel to be impoverished, destitute, frayed, worn out, rundown, tattered, threadbare, strapped, poverty stricken, penniless, broke, busted, worthless, wretched, inferior, sordid, low down?


Story: Appearing Impoverished: A Stunning Lession
I was employed as a tour guide in a mountain resort. Everyday for an entire tourist season I carried a light jacket and a plastic rain pancho even when bad weather was not forecast because who can predict the weather in Colorado?... One Sunday I was running late which resulted in leaving my jacket with the plastic rain pancho neatly folded and compressed in one of its pockets. Naomi, my wife, dropped me off then ran some errands.

Shortly after arriving the temperature began dropping. The wind picked up. Dark clouds gathered. It began to rain hard. I was stranded at work without transportation, cold and wet. At the time I felt exposed, uncomfortable, lacking and needy. I longed for my jacket and rain pancho... I tried calling Naomi, she wasn't home yet. She also neglected to turn on her cell phone.

It was cold and damp. That being the situation I found two black 30 gallon plastic trash bags from the supply closet. In one bag I poked holes for my head and arms and in the other for my feet and legs then put them on and tied them together.

I was a sight to see. I looked pitiful, needy, impoverished, beggarly, destitute . The guests on my tours treated me with that same disdain unfortunately. It was a very degrading experience even though it was only for a few hours. It made me aware of how dreadfully horrible it felt to even appear impoverished.

It felt so good to have a kind wife waiting in a warm auto when work concluded. It was so especially nice to get a shot of vodka with a warm bath...

Dear reader, as a young child my father and uncle took my brothers and me to their place of childhood. It was a two room shack without running water, bathrooms, kitchen or any other necessities. It was awfull! It left an indelible impression on us. Our mother was raised as a child in a ghetto. Our parents built their first two room house, by hand after work and on weekends. They were not observant. They vowed never to be poor. My father worked three jobs and my mother two. My brothers and I each began working before we were ten years old. I had a social security card by age twelve...

Now, holy reader, the point to all this is hard work does not always make one wealthy. G-d makes those decisions. G-d shows favor to whom He will show favor... As much as we would like to think It is in our hands, it is not. There are wealthy people who inherited their wealth... Others who blindly stumbled into their wealth... Then there are the Bill Gates of the world. G-d has a hand in it all!

Dear reader, any of us who are riding the tide of wealth today could be poverty stricken tomorrow, G-d forbid! We must remember the poor! We must becareful not to pass judgment! Each of us is only one market crash, earthquake, flood, fire.. etc. away from the portals of extreme poverty... G-d forbid!!

The poor struggle for each day's bread, Yom Echad, "One Day" at a time... When Hashem created the world the Torah describes day one as having "the heavens" and "the earth" yet the earth was astonshingly empty, with darkness upon the face of the deep, the waters that covered earth. G-d created light. G-d saw that the light was good... G-d divided between light and darkness. G-d called the light day and the darkness night... Then G-d concluded His first day of creating by stating, "there was evening and there was morning, one day."

The point is that day one of creation describes the astonshing emptiness that the poor experience. It verbalizes the darkness that they experience like being in a tunnel without light... It describes their feelings of hopelessness without light. Then creation also potrays the light of expectation, the good light which separates the darkness, emptiness and depravity from G-d's good light.

Just as the divine presence hovered over the earth that was flooded with dark waters {poverty} to shine light to those deluged with the dark, impossible floods of emptiness and misery, we who are Jews - who are the light of the world - are called upon to drive back the floodwaters.

Holy readers, DAY ONE was intended to offer hope to a world of emptiness... to a world flooded with darkness. The Gematria of Yom Echad, meaning day one and Ehv Yoon, meaning poor, needy, beggar, destitute, pauper, miserable, wretched share the same Gematria 69.

From right to left:

Yom Echad
13 =
Dalet = 4 + Chess = 8 + Aleph = 1 + 56 = Mem = 40 + Vav = 6 + Yud = 10

69 = 13 + 56

Ehv Yoon
69 =
Nun = 50 + Vav = 6 + Yud = 10 + Bais = 2 + Aleph = 1

Now, dear readers Jewish Charity in Parshas Re'eh was intended to offer that light of hope to the "poor in your midst"
NOT some great religious edifice...
NOT some new building program...
NOT excessive rabbinic salaries...
NOT rabbinic housing allowances...
NOT unmonitored rabbinic expense accounts...
NOT unaudited, self serving, discretionary accounts that give the outward appearance of assisting the poor in our midst!

Holy reader, as we approach Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur please don't forget the poor in our midst...

The best, most effective method that ensures our gifts reach those whom they are intended for is to hand deliver the gift to the poor in our midst ourselves. Let's be that individual ray of hope! Let's be that light on day one. What is day one? Rosh Hashanah, day one of the new year... According to Reb Eliezer, the universe was created in Tishri {Rosh Hashanah}.

Wishing you the best,

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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