Aparigraha: A Story

A Rabbi was worried about having enough food to help the poor during an extremely desperate time, with many families needing help.  He made visits to many different people who lived in their village, asking people to donate money to help others.

The Rabbi decided to visit the most stingy, miserly member of their village.  This penny-pinching man, known as the most tightfisted mean spirited man, was the richest man in the whole countryside. The Rabbi’s students thought the Rabbi was crazy to waste his time, but they decided to go with the Rabbi on his visit.

The stingy man, dressed in his best clothes, cracked the door open to the Rabbi and his students.  The Rabbi asked to come in out of the cold to speak to him.  He grudgingly opened the door and allowed them to come into the entryway.  The Rabbi explained that there were many families that were close to starving this winter and could he spare any extra money to help these families?

The man sighed.  “I don’t have anything to give. Is there was any one else you could ask?”

“No, I have already asked all that I can ask.” replied the Rabbi.  “We would appreciate anything you can spare.”

This miserly man sighed again and left the room.  He returned with his fist closed tightly over one small coin, equivalent to one cent.  The Rabbi put out his hand and the man dropped the coin onto his outstretched hand.

“Thank you so much!” the Rabbi spoke with happiness, “We so appreciate your giving.  May you lead a blessed life for your generosity.”

As soon as they walked outside, the students expressed their outrage.  “Why did you give him a blessing for being so stingy?!  He could have easily donated enough money so that no one would go without!”

“Yes, indeed it would appear that way.” The Rabbi replied,  “…but he gave what he could give.”

“But he hoards his money!  He believes that he is poor.” they argued.

Several days passed and the Rabbi went again to this stingy man’s house.  Again he asked for money.  This time the man sighed and gave him a fist full of small coins.  Once again, the Rabbi thanked him and gave him his blessing.  Each visit this tightfisted man gave a little more.  In the fourth visit, the Rabbi was invited in and offered some tea.  They talked for quite some time until the Rabbi needed to leave.  The man asked him to wait.  This time he brought a whole chest of coins to donate.  He gave the Rabbi a big hug and thanked him for allowing him to give what he could give.