What does living with wisdom look like? That is the focus of Psalm 112.
Psalms 111 and 112 are twins: ten verses structured as acrostic phases of the Hebrew alphabet. They use many of the same key words and yet are different. Psalm 111 largely describes the wonder and character of God. Psalm 112 expresses how people can emulate God’s goodness. Among the teachings is the importance of distributing charity and the making of loans. Our sages will amplify the need for such generosity with the following story in the Talmud (Masechet Kallah 1:21), with a quote from our Psalm.
Rabbi Tarfon was very wealthy, but limited in his charity-giving. His colleague, Rabbi Akiva, offered to buy him a city or two. Rabbi Tarfon liked the idea and gave him forty thousand gold coins. Instead, Rabbi Akiva distributed the funds among the poor.
One day, Rabbi Tarfon said to Rabbi Akiva, “Please show me the cities that you have purchased on my behalf.”
Rabbi Akiva took him to a study hall filled with students. A boy was reading out loud to his peers verse nine of Psalm 112: “Distribution is given to the needy, his righteousness stands forever, his horn shall be raised in honor.”
Rabbi Akiva exclaimed, “This mitzvah is the city that I purchased for you.”
Rabbi Tarfon rose, kissed Rabbi Akiva, and proclaimed, “My rabbi! My guide! My rabbi in wisdom and my guide in proper conduct!”
Rabbi Tarfon then gave Rabbi Akiva additional funds to distribute to the needy.
Join me today at 9:30am
Our study this morning is dedicated to Louise and Chuck Chatlynne