I Was Scammed. Now What?

Sunday, 23 August, 2020 - 9:52 pm


Question of the Week:

I feel like an absolute idiot. I wanted to give some charity, as I have been a bad boy recently. And I fell for a scam. This guy was supposedly helping orphans who live on the street and I felt so bad for them. But turns out this fellow is living it up off other people's stupidity. People like me. So it seems even when I try to do a good deed it turns out bad. What does that say about me? 


This is the best news you could possibly hear right now.  You see, it is important to make sure that your charity goes to worthy recipients. But if by mistake it didn't, then you are the recipient of Jeremiah's curse. Which is a great blessing.

Let me explain. 

The prophet Jeremiah was persecuted by the people of his home town, Anatot. So he cursed them, but in a rather strange way: "When you give charity, it should be to unworthy recipients!"

Seems an unusual choice of curse. I could think of some worse evils to wish upon your enemies. There are some great old Yiddish curses, like: "You should lose all your teeth except one. And then you should get a toothache." That's what I call a curse. What's the big deal if they give charity to people who don't deserve it?

But Jeremiah was a holy man. With this cryptic curse he was in fact offering his enemies a blessing.

There is a spiritual law of reciprocity. G-d mirrors our actions. When we give charity to the needy, G-d reciprocates and gives us our needs. Fill the lack in the lives of others, and G-d will fill your lack.

If we are careful to only give to those who truly deserve, G-d does the same and only gives us according to our worthiness. However, when we carelessly give to an unworthy recipient, G-d is a little careless too, and He gives us even if we are not deserving. 

Jeremiah understood this. He looked at these men who had treated him so badly, and knew they were not deserving of any goodness from above. But being a true leader, Jeremiah loved his people, even those that hurt him. So he prayed that they give charity to unworthy recipients. This way, unworthy as they may be, they too will be looked after by G-d. 

Who knows? Maybe being scammed just before Rosh Hashana means you'll be blessed beyond what you deserve. Next time be careful who you give to. But let misplaced generosity be your biggest sin. So you were scammed. May that be your proverbial toothache. 

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Moss

Talmud Bava Basra 9b. It states there that misplaced generosity is not rewarded. For indeed a reward needs to be earned. Here you receive blessing unearned.

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