Two Tales of charity:
A man moved into the small town and bought a little house across the street from the railroad tracks. Every morning he noticed an elderly lady walking along the tracks picking up something and putting it into a bag that she carried. The man got curious about this lady and so he went to the corner "Mom & Pop" grocery story that had been there forever and asked the owner about this lady. "Oh, that's the widow Jacobs. Every day she comes half way across town to pick up the coal that is spilled on the tracks when the early morning train runs through town." "But there hasn't been a steam locomotive using coal on these tracks for years," replied the new resident. "That's right," said the store owner. "When the steam train stopped running, old Mr. Simpson who runs the hardware store was concerned that the Widow Jacobs would no longer have coal to heat and cook with. He knew she was too proud to take charity, so he decided to get up early every morning, take a bag of coal and drop it along the tracks. The Widow Jacobs still thinks the steam train runs by here every morning. I think Old Mr. Simpson has been doing that for about 5 years now.
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“There was a rich Jew who never gave alms to the poor or contributed to charitable causes. People in his small village never called him by name. They simply referred to him as The Miser.
One day, a beggar came to the door of The Miser. “Where to you come from?” The Miser asked.
“I live in the village,” answered the beggar.
“Nonsense” cried the Miser. “Everyone in this village knows that I do not support beggars.”
In that same village, there lived a poor shoemaker. He was a most generous man who responded to every person in need and every charitable cause that was brought to his attention. No one was ever turned away empty-handed from his door.
One day The Miser died. The village leaders decided to bury him on the edge of the cemetery. No one mourned his passing. No one followed the funeral procession to the place of burial.
As the days passed, the rabbi heard disturbing news regarding the shoemaker. “He no longer gives alms to the beggars,” complained one man. “He has refused every charity that has approached him,” declared another.
“Has anyone asked about his change?” inquired the rabbi?
“Yes,” replied the first man. “He says that he no longer has money to give away.”
Soon the rabbi called on the shoemaker. “Why have you suddenly ceased giving money to worthy causes?”
Slowly the shoemaker began to speak. “Many years ago, the man who was called The Miser came to me with a huge sum of money and asked me to distribute it to beggars and charities. He made me promise that I would not reveal the source of the money until after he died. Once every month he would visit me secretly and give me additional money to distribute. I became known as a great benefactor even though I never spent a penny of my own money. I am surprised that no one questioned me earlier. How could anyone who earned the wages of a shoemaker give away as much money as I have all these years?”
The rabbi called all the villagers together and told them the story. “The Miser has lived by the Scriptures, keeping his charity a secret,” the rabbi told them. Then they all walked to the grave of The Miser and prayed. Before the rabbi died, he asked to be buried near the fence, next to the grave of the man known as The Miser.