In the Torah portion of Miketz we read how the brothers of Yosef came down to Egypt to buy food. The Prime Minister who, unbeknownst to them, was their brother Yosef, claimed that they were spies and insisted that they prove their innocence by bringing their brother Binyamin back with them. When he sent them off to Canaan, he instructed that they be given food and צֵדָה לַדֶרֶךְ, provisions for the road.
As the verse (Gen. 42:25
) says, וַיְצַו יוֹסֵף וַיְמַלְאוּ אֶת כְּלֵיהֶם בַּר וּלְהָשִׁיב כַּסְפֵּיהֶם אִישׁ אֶל שַׂקּוֹ וְלָתֵת לָהֶם צֵדָה לַדָּרֶךְ; וַיַּעַשׂ לָהֶם כֵּן – “Then Yosef gave orders to fill their bags with grain, return each one’s money to his sack, and give them provisions for the journey; and this was done for them.”
By doing this, Yosef was fulfilling the mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim – hosting (and caring for) guests (Torah Mefureshet by Rabbi Eliezer Levi, Tel Aviv 1961).
says that Yosef made sure to give them food for the road so that the food they were taking back for their families not be diminished.
says that the purpose of giving them a separate food bag for the way instead of just adding more to the main food bag was so that they would not find the money he had returned to them (which was placed in the main food bag) until they got home so that they would not be nervous while traveling. (The money bag of Levi was placed in a waythat he would find it immediately as Yosef wanted him to be extra nervous as atonement for his part in selling Yosef. See verse 27
there. See also Rashi on verse 24
The Ha’amek Davar
explains, based on the extra “vav” in the verse, that Yosef commanded the regular people in charge of the grain sales to fill their bags with grain, whereas the instruction to add extra food for the road and to return their money was given to someone whom Yosef trusted. He did this so that people would not suspect what he was planning for his brothers.
This article will discuss the importance of giving a care package to guests (who are going on a trip) as well as how to prepare provisions for our final journey.
Our Sages Say
The Rosh writes (Orchot Chaim 58
), “Do not fail to give guests provisions for their journeys. Accompany them on their way, and comfort them, for they are far from home and dejected.”
Rabbeinu Yonah writes (Sefer HaYirah page 31), “When the guests leave, escort them, and give them bread for their journey.
Because ‘Over a loaf of bread a man will be found sinful (Proverbs 28:21
).’ And (according to the Talmud Sanhedrin 104a
) ‘Had Yonatan given David two loaves of bread when he was fleeing from [King] Saul, David would not have sought sustenance from the priests of the city of Nov, the 85 priests of that city would not have been killed, Doeg the Edomite would not have been banished from the World-to-Come, and [King] Saul and his three sons would not have been killed as punishment for that massacre.
(See Shmuel I, 20
). (Although King Saul viewed the help of the priests of Nov to David as a traitorous act, this was an error on his part.) One should also give the (needy) guests a monetary gift when they leave.”
Source in the Written Torah
Some say that Avraham fulfilled this concept and provided the angels who visited him (Gen. 18
) with provisions for their journey. This can be derived from how he greeted them. He said “וְאֶקְחָה פַת לֶחֶם וְסַֽעֲדוּ לִבְּכֶם אַחַר תַּֽעֲבֹרוּ.” This is normally translated as “And I will take a morsel of bread, and sustain your hearts; after which you will pass on.” But since there is no vav in the verse, it can be translated as follows.
“And I will take a morsel of bread, and sustain your hearts; after you pass on,” i.e., Avraham was telling them that he would give them bread to take on the continuation of their journey. (Torat Shimon by Rabbi Shimon Marilus on the verse. Quoted by Rabbi Yissachar Dov of Belz. See Nedarim 37b with Tosfot
regarding this verse.)
This also explains why Avraham did not serve them bread despite the fact that he had told Sarah to bake it (verse 6]. What occurred is that Avraham fed the angels the perishable food (meat and dairy) while he gave them the bread, which is not (as) perishable, for them to take for the road. [At that point Avraham treated them like human beings as he did not yet know that they were angels.] (Sha’arei Simcha by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Sofer, son of the Ketav Sofer
, on the verse. See Rashi on verse 8
for the interpretation given by the Talmud
Five Obligations Towards a Guest
Taking a Package for the Next World
By caring for guests and providing them with care packages, one is (also) preparing a care package (of mitzvot) which he can take with him to the next world (Mussar Haskel by Rabbi Elchanan Yosef Hartsman).
The Chaftez Chaim Made his own Bed
It is told that once the Chafetz Chaim hosted a poor guest. He provided him with a hearty meal and then made him a bed where he could sleep for the night. The poor man said to the Chafetz Chaim, “Rebbe, please don’t trouble yourself so much for me!” The Chaftez Chaim said to him, “I am preparing this bed for myself as I am making this bed for myself in the next world. If I were to trouble myself to find a nice etrog, you would not stop me from doing so, since you would know that I am doing a mitzvah. This too is a similar mitzvah (ibid).”
Prepare for the Long Journey
Rabbi Aharon HaKohen of Zelichov and Apt (author of the Keter Shem Tov
) wrote (Ohr HaGanuz on the verse) that the comment of Yosef to prepare food for the road is also referring to every person preparing (spiritual) sustenance to take with them to the next world.
He points out that many people say that they only plan to experience yearning for G-d in the next world since in this world they are too busy with their mundane activities. In fact, the opposite is true. It is specifically in this physical world that we must strive to achieve a yearning for G-d as this will prepare us for our spiritual experiences in the Hereafter.
Yosef alluded to this when he said וַיְמַלְאוּ אֶת כְּלֵיהֶם בָּר וּלְהָשִׁיב כַּסְפֵּיהֶם אִישׁ אֶל שַׂקּוֹ וְלָתֵת לָהֶם צֵדָה לַדָּרֶךְ. This can be translated to mean, “One should fill their vessels (words) with grain (Torah). And one should achieve yearning (כֹּסֶף means yearning) while in his physical body (which can be compared to a sack). This will allow us to have sustenance for the road [to the next world].
Tzedaka Is Your Care Package
Rabbi Eliyahu HaKohen
, Turkey [1659 -1729], author of Shevet Musar
, writes that giving Tzedaka (charity) is a mitzvah that brings protection to one in this world as well as great spiritual reward in the next world. This is alluded to in the Hebrew letters of Tzedaka/צדקה.
צדקה is an acronym for צדה לדרך קרובה היא which means “it is a care package for a close journey.”
This refers to the protection provided in this world which is close to us.
It also stands for צדה לדרך רחוקה היא which means “it is a care package for a distant journey.” This alludes to the fact that tzedaka brings great merit in the World to Come which is distant from us (Me’il Tzedaka, ot 1548).
Mar Ukva’s Long Journey
He cites the following story from the Talmud (Ketubot 67b
) to illustrate this point. Mar Ukva excelled in the mitzvah of giving tzedaka both in the amounts he gave and in the manner in which he gave them. When he was dying, he said, “Bring me my charity records.”
The records indicated that he had given seven thousand fine gold, dinars, to charity. He said, “My provisions are light, and the way [to the Next World] is far,” i.e., this meager sum is insufficient for me to merit the World-to-Come. He got up and spent half of his remaining money on charity.
The Talmud explains that, although generally one may not splurge and give more than 20 percent of one’s wealth to charity, at the end of one’s life this is permissible. The reason for this is that the principle behind not giving more than 20 percent to charity is so that one does not become impoverished and become a burden on the community by having to accept charity. This does not apply when one is passing away.
explains that Mar Ukva referred to Tzedaka as provisions for the next world because the Talmud says (Bava Batra 10b
) that Tzedaka protects one from punishment in Gehinom. Mar Ukva felt that compared to his wealth, 7,000 fine gold dinars was insufficient protection since every person is expected to give according to his ability.
How Much to Give as a Percentage of One’s Estate?
Based on the above, the Rama writes (Yoreh Deah 249:1
) “A man should not squander more than one-fifth [of his worth] to charity, so that he might not become a burden to the public [as he may then need to accept charity himself]. This refers only to his lifetime whereas at the time of death one may leave for charity as much as he pleases.”
Rabbi Akiva Eiger
writes that, even at the time of death, one should not give away more than one third of one’s wealth as he should leave his heirs an inheritance. This is based on the She’iltot whose version of the Talmud was that Mar Ukva gave away a third of his wealth. (In our versions of the Talmud it says that it was half.)
Similarly the Me’iri writes (on Bava Batra ibid) that if one has sons or other relatives who are in need, he should not give his entire estate away but should rather leave them an appropriate amount.
May we be protected in this world and take many provisions to the next!
Wishing You a Happy Chanukah, a Shabbat Shalom Umevorach and a Chodesh Tov!