The Torah relates that Moshe ran away from Mitzrayim after he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. The reason being, that Dasan and Aviram found out and spread the gossip. While in Midyan, Hashem appeared to Moshe and told him to return to Mitzrayim (4: 19) ‘for all the men who seek your life have died.’
The gemara (Nedarim 7b) says that we learn from this pasuk that a poor person is considered as if he is dead. Since it says ‘for all the men who seek your life have died’, and we know that Dasan and Aviram were still alive; it must mean that they were poor and considered dead.
The Ran asks, from where does the gemara know that Dasan and Aviram were aniyim. A poor person isn’t the only one considered a dead person, as we’ve learned, one who is afflicted with tzora’as is also considered to be dead. Perhaps Dasan and Aviram were not poor but had indeed contracted tzora’as? He answered that since the pasuk later on (in Devarim) clearly says that they were living amongst bnei Yisroel, it must be that they were poor. For had they developed tzora’as they would’ve been isolated from bnei Yisroel. The Ran asks a bit farther, and ponders, is it possible that they were inflicted with tzora’as in Mitzrayim and were healed by matan Torah? He then answered that it can’t be so due to the fact that the tzora’as would have returned once they had faithfully sinned by the chet h’egel (as all who sinned and had previously gotten healed had their illnesses returned to them).
However, the achronim ask that the mishna in Nega’im states that any siman of tzora’as that a person received prior to matan Torah would not be metameh. So even though they were mitzorahem, they would be allowed to dwell amongst the bnei Yisroel! We are therefore back to our original question of how did the gemara know that they were indeed poor and were not inflicted with tzora’as?
Rav Chaim Shmuelovitz, Zt”l answers with an imperative thought for us all.
It was simple to the Ran that Dasan and Aviram did not have tzora’as. His reason was because a mitzorah before matan Torah had no obligation to sit isolated outside the camp. The whole concept of ‘badad yaysheiv’ didn’t exist, because we had not yet received the Torah! The whole reason why a mitzorah is counted as if he is dead is because of the underlying factor in which all four people (a poor person, mitzorah, childless couple and blind person) share a common thread. All four do not have the ability to share with others. A mitzorah is isolated, a childless couple has no one to give to, and a blind man and pauper depend on others and don’t have the ability to share with/give to others. The purpose of someone’s life is to share with others. When a person is stripped of that ability, we consider them to be dead.
We see here an important yesod. When a person has the ability to give, we clearly see how he is defined. He is a living being; a giving person; someone who others can rely on and depend on, in the time of need. Should a person have the ability to give and chooses not to, he has lost his title as a ‘living being’ and is considered to be counted amongst the dead. Bnei Yisroel has this special middah of giving and it’s something that most of us can see every day.
We should all be zoche to be counted as a living human being and to always be in the position of giving and we hope and pray that the more we give the more Hashem will give and may we be zoche for Him to ‘give’ us and bring us Moshiach b’karov.
HAVE A GREAT SHABBOS