I’m bothered by the fact that we find that some Tanaaim who were very wealthy, like Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya and Rabban Gamliel and Rabbi Eliezer ben Hurkenus and some were very poor like Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananya, and they all were together – they knew each other. So why didn’t the wealthy ones give money to the poor ones and make them wealthy too?
And the answer is because the poor ones had sense. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananya wouldn’t take it. He wouldn’t take it from them because when you take gifts from other people, you become a slave to them. You lose your bechira, your free will.
You know, when somebody eats at your table and you tell him one of your torahs, so he’s always maskim, “Ah! It was a good dvar Torah.” Could be it wasn’t, but he’s eating at your table so he lost his free will.
And therefore, when you’re mekabel from somebody, you should know that you’re becoming sold out to that person. You don’t have the ability to do what you’re supposed to do many times. And so שונא מתנות יחיה. You want to live and living means living for the purpose of bechira; you want to live in order to continue expressing your ability to choose what’s right. Everybody has that mitzvah, ובחרת בחיים – to choose what’s right all the time. That’s why you’re alive and therefore in order to maintain your bechira, you have be a soineh matanos.
And so, Rabbi Yehoshua wouldn’t take a thing from them. They would have happily given it to him, but he wouldn’t take it.
TAPE # E-77