This Shabbos we read Parshas Naso. The Torah tells us in the beginning of the Parsha, that a person who is distributing the presents of tithes that he must give away, has the right to decide which Cohen to give them to. “And the holies of a man shall be his, a man who gives to the Cohen shall be to him.” (Numbers 5:10) The simple meaning here is that when we give our charity or tithes, we have the right to choose which particular Cohen or which particular charity to give it to. No one can tell us that since we are giving it away anyway, we have to give it to them. We are given the right to decide which place to give it to.
The Chafetz Chaim explains another thought that is being told to us in these words. The end of the verse is telling us a most important idea. If we are asked, what items in this world are really yours? What do you know that you really have? We may answer our car, home, and money. We may answer our family and friends. Or we may think our honor and glory. Whatever it is, the Chafetz Chaim explains, we are making a most serious mistake. He relates the following story:
There was once a man - Bill - who was staying in Russia for a few weeks. Bill had three friends, Harry, Roger and Steve. Harry was his best friend – he considered him inseparable in all aspects of his life. Roger was a very good friend, while Steve was a friend but no way near as close as the others. One day Bill got a call from the KGB that he was being summoned for questioning the next morning at 9:00 AM sharp. Terrified, he asked Harry and Roger to go with him, to intercede on his behalf in this situation that could quickly and easily turn into a situation of life and death. Harry refused to go at all. He told Bill that he simply could not make it, but he really shouldn’t worry, it would certainly be OK. Roger told Bill that he would accompany him until the KGB building, but he could not go in with him, as he was too scared to enter the building. Steve, who Bill didn’t even ask for help, volunteered to go with Bill and stay with him, and to plead on his behalf. The next day Steve actually did this and was a tremendous help for Bill, helping him avoid detention and imprisonment. .
This same scenario, explains the Chafetz Chaim, happens to each and every one of us. At the end of our life when we die and move on to the next world, our money and possessions, that we felt so connected to, don’t even come with us to the cemetery. Our family comes to the cemetery, but can’t go with us any further. Only our charity and good deeds can be the true advocates for us before the Divine throne. This is what the Torah is teaching us: “ A man who gives to the Cohen shall be to him” – What a man gives to the Cohen, that shall really be to him – that is what he really will take with him. What is really ours? What do we take with us that can never be taken away from us? It is only the charity and good deeds that we do that help us and will remain with us for eternity.