The Steipler Returned The Check: ‘I’m Not Poor, Thank G-d’

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JERUSALEM (VINnews) — In times when Israeli leaders fight to gain tax breaks from the state despite nearly 25% unemployment in Israel due to coronavirus, it is illuminating to see how a rabbinic leader acted during a similar period of economic depression when he received a present in honor of the Pesach festival.

The Kedem auction house is now auctioning a letter from the Steipler, Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Kanievski, written to the Bnei Brak municipality in 1985, just a few months before his death. The municipality had decided to send him a check for 400,000 NIS (which due to the hyperinflation at the time was worth much less) as “participation in the printing of his books.” The Steipler answered in a letter in which he returned the check, stating that “I do not accept any help except for taxes (municipal rates) which the Torah absolved me from. I am not poor thank G-d.” The letter concluded with the Steipler’s wishes to the mayor: “I seek his welfare and honor him according to his lofty status.”

 

Kedem auction house owner Maron Aran told Ynet that “the lack of bold, honest and truly humble leaders is very evident nowadays. Rabbi Kanievski left behind a rich heritage which one can experience and appreciate a little from the document being revealed at present. Let us hope that our people and its leaders will learn an important lesson from the righteous men of a generation bygone.”

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