Beit Midrash

  • Shabbat and Holidays
  • The Melachot
To dedicate this lesson
At the Shabbat Table

A Priceless Mitzva


Rabbi Daniel Kirsch

Tamuz 27 5780
Yitzele closed the door behind him, and stepped out into the clear Jerusalem air. The warmth of the cholent and kugel and the zemirot that he had just sung with his father, filled him with a sense of contentment. Nothing could make his Shabbat afternoon more perfect, now, than a walk to the Kotel.
As Yitzele walked, he took in the familiar sights before him. His gaze shifted from the apartment buildings, to the signs on the wall, to the well-worn cobblestones. His eager footfalls came to a sudden halt. Something on the ground was glinting in the afternoon sunlight. His curiosity stirred, Yitzele bent down to see what was there. His breath caught in his throat. It was a gold coin!
He imagined how happy his mother would be to see this coin. Such a coin could easily support his family for two weeks! His mind filled with images of what they would be able to buy - bread, milk, butter, chicken for Shabbos!
There was just one problem. How could he get the coin home? He couldn’t move the coin on Shabbos! Then it came to him. He could stand on the coin, until the end of Shabbos! Then he would be able to pick it up and take it home. True, several hours were left until nightfall, but the thoughts of what the coin could do for his family fortified him, as he stood guard over the precious coin.
He had been standing in place for more than an hour, when an Arab teenager approached him. "Why are you standing there like that?" the older boy asked.
Yitzele realized that he had no choice but to answer. "I found something that I can’t pick up because it’s Shabbos…"
The teenager didn’t wait for the end of the sentence. He pushed Yitzele to the side, grabbed the coin, and ran away. Yitzele stood there, stunned. His dreams of what he would do with his newfound wealth had been snatched from him, and there was nothing he could do but stand there, openmouthed. Dejectedly, Yitzele headed home.
Later that afternoon, Yitzele walked over to the shul his father attended. He usually helped set the tables for seuda shlishit, but today he wasn’t in the mood. He sat at the side of the room, looking upset.
The rabbi of the shul, the Chernobyler Rebbe, noticed the sad little boy. "What’s wrong, Yitzele?" the rebbe asked.
Yitzele proceeded to tell the rebbe the saga of the found and lost coin. The rebbe looked at Yitzele compassionately. "Yitzele, I now you’re very sad, but now it’s still Shabbos. Try to enjoy what’s left of the day. After havdala tonight, I’d like you to come to my house."
After havdala, Yitzele walked over to the rebbe’s house. The rebbe motioned to the boy to sit down. The rebbe opened his hand, to reveal a gold coin, identical to the one that Yitzele had found earlier. "Yitzele, I would like you to have this coin. But it’s on one condition. Can I have the heavenly reward for what you did today, when you didn’t pick up the coin you found?"
Yitzele was stunned! "The rebbe wants my reward!?"
"Yes, Yitzele, you did a great mitzva today. It was a great kiddush Hashem (sanctification of G-d’s name) when you refused to violate Shabbos, and gave up that gold coin," the rebbe explain. "I’ll give you this gold coin, if you’ll give me your reward."
Yitzele took in the rebbe’s words. "If my mitzva is really worth that much, then I’d rather keep the reward!" he replied happily.
The lesson that the rebbe taught little Yitzele that day, about the tremendous value of a mitzva, remained with him for the rest of his life.
Was Yitzele, in fact, forbidden to move the coin? Was there a way he could have taken it home, on Shabbos?
Answer of Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl, shlita:
It is permitted to move a muktza object "b’gufo" (with one’s body), i.e. with a foot or the back of one’s hand, or any other part of the body (with the exception of the palms of one’s hands). This leniency even applies if the action is being done for the benefit of the muktza object 1 .
However, it is forbidden to move any object more than four amot 2 in a public area on Shabbat. Therefore, Yitzele would have been permitted to move the coin b’gufo only up to four amot if there wasn’t a kosher eiruv.
(This story appears on page 116 of the book In the Footsteps of the Maggid, by Rabbi Paysach Krohn.)

^ 1. (See Shulchan Aruch, 311, 8. Also see Shmirath Shabbath, which brings the responsa of Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt"l. However, this contradicts the opinion of the Chazon Ish, zt"l, who forbade moving a muktza object b’gufo, solely for the protection of the muktza object.)
^ 2.An ama is a measurement of length. Opinions vary about the exact length of an ama, but contemporary halachic decisors have ruled that the ama measures between 19-24 inches.
את המידע הדפסתי באמצעות אתר