Importance of Charity

There is an interesting story in בבא בתרא about רב פפא. When he nearly fell off a ladder, he became very concerned.

Rav Papa understood that one who falls off a ladder is a sign that he transgressed in such a way that he was deserving of death by stoning.

He cried out, “Did I violate Shabbat in public? Did I worship idols?” He couldn’t understand the message he was receiving from Hashem in his near death accident.

A colleague suggested that perhaps his sin was that he refused giving charity to the poor. (Rav Papa was in charge of distributing funds to the poor.)

The Gemara shows by way of גזירה שווה and the double use of the word, בליעל, without a yoke, that refusing to help the poor is indeed like עבודה זרה, idol worship.

We must never minimize the importance of צדקה for the poor. צדקה תציל ממות, charity saves from death.