I am looking for a source for a story I remember reading long ago about a man who resented giving maaser. Gradually he reduced how much he gave from ten percent, but instead of being left with more for himself he found his fields began to produce less, until finally he was getting ten percent of what he used to. His friend/Rabbi came to him and told him to celebrate because he was now being treated as a Levi, since he held that he was exempt from maaser.

1 Answer 1


Midrash Tanchuma, Re'eh 10:

דְּאָמַר רַבִּי לֵוִי, מַעֲשֶׂה בְּאֶחָד שֶׁהָיָה מוֹצִיא מַעַשְׂרוֹתָיו כָּרָאוּי, וְהָיְתָה לוֹ שָׂדֶה אַחַת וְהָיְתָה עוֹשָׂה אֶלֶף מִדּוֹת, וְהָיָה מוֹצִיא מַעַשְׂרוֹתָיו מִמֶּנָּה מֵאָה מִדּוֹת לְמַעֲשֵׂר, וּמִן הַמּוֹתָר הָיָה מִתְפַּרְנֵס הוּא וּבָנָיו וּבְנֵי בֵּיתוֹ כָּל יָמָיו. בִּשְׁעַת מִיתָתוֹ קָרָא לִבְנוֹ, אָמַר, בְּנִי, תֵּן דַּעְתְּךָ עַל שָׂדֶה, כָּךְ וְכָךְ מִדּוֹת הִיא עוֹשָׂה, וְכָךְ אֲנִי מוֹצִיא מִמֶּנָּה מַעֲשֵׂר, וּמִמֶּנָּה הָיִיתִי מִתְפַּרְנֵס אֲנִי וּבֵיתִי כָּל יָמַי. שָׁנָה רִאשׁוֹנָה, זְרָעָהּ הַבֵּן אוֹתָהּ וְעָשְׂתָה אֶלֶף מִדּוֹת. הוֹצִיא מִמֶּנָּה מֵאָה מִדּוֹת מַעֲשֵׂר. שְׁנִיָּה, נִכְנַס בּוֹ עַיִן רָעָה, וּפָחַת הוּא עֲשָׂרָה, וּפָחֲתָה הִיא מֵאָה. שְׁלִישִׁית, פָּחַת הוּא עֲשָׂרָה, פָּחֲתָה הִיא מֵאָה. וְכֵן רְבִיעִית וַחֲמִישִׁית, עַד שֶׁעָמְדָה עַל מַעַשְׂרוֹתֶיהָ. כְּשֶׁרָאוּ הַקְּרוֹבִים כֵן, עָמְדוּ לָבְשׁוּ בְּגָדִים לְבָנִים וְנִתְעַטְּפוּ לְבָנִים וְנִכְנְסוּ אֶצְלוֹ. אָמַר לָהֶם: לָמָּה בָּאתֶם, לִשְׂמֹחַ עַל אוֹתוֹ הָאִישׁ שֶׁנִּדּוּהוּ. אָמְרוּ לֵיהּ, חָס וְשָׁלוֹם, לֹא בָּאנוּ אֶלָּא לִשְׂמֹחַ עִמְּךָ. לְשֶׁעָבַר הָיִיתָ בַּעַל הַבַּיִת וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא כֹּהֵן, וְעַכְשָׁו נַעֲשֵׂיתָ כֹּהֵן וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בַּעַל הַבַּיִת.

As R. Levi related: There once was a person who separated his maaseros correctly. He had a field that produced a thousand units; he would separate 100 units as maaser, and throughout his life he, his children and his household would live off the rest. Before his passing he called his son and said, "My son, pay attention to this field, which produces so-and-so many units, from which I take so-and-so much maaser, and from which I and my family lived off throughout my life." The first year the son planted that field and it produced a thousand units, from which he separated 100 units as maaser. In the second year he felt more stingy and reduced his maaser by 10 units, and the field produced 100 less. The next year he reduced [the maaser] by another 10, and the field's output went down by 100. This continued in the fourth and fifth year, until eventually it produced only its [original] maaser. When his relatives saw what had happened, they dressed and robed themselves in white clothing and came to visit him. He said, "Why are you coming? To be happy about 'that man's' misfortune?" They said, "G-d forbid! We came only to rejoice with you! Formerly you were the landowner and G-d was the Kohen, while now you have become the Kohen and G-d the landowner!"

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .