Question:

Someone has been asking me a question for months. I’ve been asking round but no-one has yet given a straight answer to it. I was wondering what you could come up with.

The gemoro in taanis 9a says that there is a guarantee that one who gives maaser recieves brocho ad bli dai – until the lips become tired of saying dai!

It is clear that not everyone who gives maaser becomes rich (no-one I know of has tired from saying dai). There are many explanations about why it doesn’t work e.g. aveiros, it wasn’t good for the person, he didn’t give according to his means etc.

The problem is that G-d said to test Him on this. If every time it doesn’t work, there is an explanation for the failure then there is no fail scenario. It isn’t a test – I can guarantee that if you wear green socks you will become rich. If it fails, then you didn’t wear the right shade of green. It isn’t a test.

Furthermore the Shach YD 248:4 says that it will definitely work? There must be a way to do the test and make sure it works?

If G-d said we can test His schar v’onesh, there must be some workable test. For a proper test, there must be a fail scenario. What is it?

Answer:

The Chida (brought in B’orach Tzedakah pg. 5) asks your question, that we see many people who gave maser, and they haven’t become rich? As you mention there are numerous answers, when it will not work. What the gemora is saying is that normally we cannot “test” H-shem and try to manipulate Him into ding things for us, after all who are we to “tell H-shem” what to do?! Therefore, under normal circumstances, a person that tries to test H-shem will not be answered. When it comes to tzedakah though, the gemora says that we have to additional opportunity to actually “test” H-shem, and although we were not destined to receive this extra money, it will be given to us. However this test can only be done if the conditions are correct. For example, when scientists make a scientific test, let’s say for a certain drug, they make sure that it is done in a very controlled environment. If the item they are doing the test on is influenced by outside sources, (other drugs, bacteria, the wrong temperature, etc.) the test is disqualified. So too with tzedakah, the posuk says that tzedakah works, and it even has the advantage to it that we can test H-shem, however the “environment” has to be correct. For example, the money must have been earned honestly, without any geneiva whatsoever. Additionally, there are other aveiros that would cause a person to lose his money, the money was given with the proper intention, and not for honor and glory. See B’orach Tzedkah answer from R’ C. Kanievsky shlit”a, that there are times when the person should have become rich, but the money went to atone for the other aveiros that he did. (Therefore, essentially he did get rich and he was given a lot, but the money was spent, and he didn’t see it.)

It is not that in retrospect we are explaining away why it didn’t work, but from the start it wasn’t a valid test. The question though remains, if we can‘t even know if the test was valid, what is the point of even saying that we can do such a test? The answer to this may be, by going back to the example of the drug that is being scientifically tested. It is true that there may be numerus factors that will influence the test, but at the end of the day, if the drug is real, it will still have an effect, although hampered by the outside influences, it will still make a change. This is what the posuk is telling us, that although we usually cannot test H-shem, and trying to do so will not give forth any results, with tzedakah, even if there impediments, the tzedakah will still have an effect (unless it was given from dishonest money).

Tags: emuna Tzedaka

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5 Responses to “In which circumstances is it permissible to test G-d through Maaser?”

  1. There are also opinions this is only true for one who give Chomesh, a fifth.

  2. You are basically saying that we don’t know exactly how to do a fair test; in other words we don’t know what the parameters of the guaranteed test is referred to by the gemora in taanis. If so it should be assur to do any test seeing as any test except for the one referred to in the gemora is assur. However, it is apparent from the referenced Shulchan Aruch that the test may be performed in any way?

    • Why do you say that, in other areas we may not test, in this area we may, but the results may not be conclusive.

      • The Shach YD 248:4 says that it will definitely work?

        • I don’t understand, what do you see more from the Shach then the posuk itself?

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