Accepting presents

 

Accepting presents:[1]

It is a Midas Chassidus [i.e. act of piety] for one not to accept presents, and rather to trust in Hashem that He will give one that which he lacks.[2] [Seemingly, however, if this will lead to the person getting offended that his present was denied, or if the present is being given to help solidify a relationship, and strengthen the peace and love between two people, then he is to receive it.[3] One can always offer to pay some money towards the present, and so was the practice of the Rebbe.]  

Receiving charity:[4] One who is need of charity and refuses to accept it, choosing to live a very minimalist lifestyle, is praised if he can support his basic needs without the charity. Such a person will not die until he becomes wealthy. If, however, one is in need of charity, and cannot make do without it, then he is required to receive the charity, and if he does not do so, he is responsible for his own suffering and is considered to have sinned.

 

Summary:
It is permitted to accept presents, although it is a Midas Chassidus to avoid accepting it. In certain instances, however, one is not to refuse accepting it, such as if one is need of the present to support his basic expenses, [or if it will offend the giver, or is being given to solidify a friendship].

Maaseh Shehaya

Rav Gidal refuses to accept property from Rebbe Aba:[5]
Rav Gidal had been interested in a certain property and had begun the efforts of purchasing it. During the interim of his negotiations for the purchase, Rebbe Aba came along and purchased the property. A formal complaint was brought by Rav Gidal to Rebbe Aba that he had “stolen” the property from Rav Gidal, as Rav Gidal was already in the process of purchasing it. Rebbe Aba replied that he is truly sorry as he had no idea another person was in the process of purchasing the property. He was offered to sell the property to Rav Gidal, although refused being that it was the first property that he ever purchased and it is a bad omen for one to sell his first property. Rebbe Aba then offered Rav Gidal the property as a present, although Rav Gidal refused to accept it, as the verse in Mishlei states “One who hates presents lives.” Rebbe Aba was in a dilemma, as he did not feel comfortable making use of the property after discovering that he unknowingly snatched it from a potential buyer. Thus, neither Rav Gidal or Rebbe Aba made use of the property, and it became Hefker to be used by the Rabbinical students.

 

Rebbe refuses new car:
The Rebbe lived by this dictum very vividly. On one occasion in 1986, a wealthy Chassid purchased the Rebbe a new car and had it brought by the Rebbe’s driver to 770 to pick up the Rebbe. The Rebbe refused to accept the car, stating “Hasoneh Matanos Yichyeh” and asked for the old car to be returned. The old car was returned and the Rebbe drove away.

 

Rebbe pays for Megillah:
In one year Reb Getzil Rubashkin purchased the Rebbe a beautiful Megillah and gave it to him as a present. The Rebbe refused to accept it unless he paid $50 for it. Reb Gettzil refused but was left with no choice and the Rebbe hence gave him the money.[6]

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[1] Admur Hilchos Mechira 9 [same exact wording as Michaber brought next]; Michaber C.M. 249/5; Kiddushin 59a regarding story with Rav Gidal who refused to receive a present of property from Rav Aba; See Aruch Hashulchan 249/4 for why this ruling does not contradict the ruling of “Zachin Leadam Shelo Befanav”   

[2] The reason: As the verse [Mishlei 15/27] states “Hasoneh Matanos Yichyeh.” [Admur ibid; Michaber ibid; Kiddushin ibid] One who accepts presents can lead him to chase after money and steal or become dishonest. Avoiding presents emphasizes one’s integrity. [Mefarshim on Mishlei ibid] Likewise, people are usually in search for money to feed themselves and their families, and on this the verse teaches that on the contrary, one who does not accept presents lives. The reason for this is because one who accepts presents is now “bribed” against chastising the giver for wrongdoing and he gets into the habit of flattering people. [Smeh 249/4; See also Shiyurei Bracha Y.D. 255 that Torah scholars who ask to be supported by the wealthy desecrate the Torah, and cause the wealthy to lose respect for Rabanim.] 

[3] So can be learned from the Mitzvah of Mishloach Manos on Purim.

[4] Michaber 255/2; Rambam end of Matanos Aniyim; Last Mishneh in Peiah

[5] Kiddushin 59a

[6] See Hiskashrus 1025

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