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The Quarter-Million-Dollar Gift

May 18, 2012 at 06:19:13 AM

I heard this inspiring story from my dear friend Jonathan Rosenblum.

Rabbi Avraham Ginzberg immigrated to the United States prior to World War II. He became involved in fundraising for a yeshiva, and in the course of these activities met a number of wealthy individuals.

One woman was so impressed with Rabbi Ginzberg that she included him in her will ― to the tune of $250,000. For Rabbi Ginzberg, who had a large family to support, that money was a huge financial relief. But Rabbi Ginzberg insisted that since he had met this wealthy woman as a representative of the yeshiva, the money rightfully belongs to the yeshiva, not to him.

When Rabbi Ginzberg's son heard this, he objected, pointing out his father's vast ongoing personal expenses. The son took upon himself to ask the great Rabbi Moshe Feinstein for a ruling.

Rabbi Feinstein said: Since the will named Rabbi Ginzberg specifically ― not the yeshiva ― the money does in fact belong to him.

The son raced home with the good news. When Rabbi Ginzberg heard, he erupted in joy.

"I am a man of modest means and I could never imagine being able to donate a quarter-million dollars to a yeshiva. But now that the money is rightfully mine, I can finally fulfill that dream!"

And with that, he promptly wrote a check to the yeshiva for $250,000.

This story highlights a sensation that only a lucky few enjoy: Working for an organization that likewise represents one's greatest personal aspirations. In this case, Rabbi Ginzberg was getting paid… for doing what he himself was willing to pay for. What a marvelous inspiration.

Published: May 18, 2012


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Visitor Comments: 1

(1) Anonymous, May 21, 2012 10:59 PM

Wonderful story

When a very large lottery prize was announced, people asked me what I would have done had I even participated and won all that money. "First, I would give my shul the money they need to pay off the mortgage, then I would pay off my mortgage. I'd create an endowment that would provide local food banks with GOOD foods, and another to make certain that a religious school I'm fond of would never have to worry about money and... " With that, my friend interrupted me. Your van is old enough to be a bar mitzvah, you live in a modest house, you need new teeth...what about YOU? Looking at my friend as though he's lost his mind I reminded him that what "I" needed was insignificant compared to what good the money could do. I'd consider myself after I had done if I had won...which I hadn't, so the entire conversation was moot. What a shame that eternal values are ignored in favor for temporary "toys" and conveniences. Sure, I'd love to replace the teeth I lost during a series of grand mal seizures. My van is just wonderful the way it is, not a single rattle or squeak; I like it. My home? Perfect the way it is and where it is. But to just imagine the joy of being able to pay off my shul's mortgage? Pardon my thinking; I think that money should provide joy for others, not just for an individual. After all, we're COMMANDED to love Hashem with all of our hearts, souls and RESOURCES. Yeah...that's the ticket even if it is imaginary.

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