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by Rabbi Yaakov Menken

This week's LifeLine is dedicated in memory of Nachman ben Zelig Fishel a"h, (Norman Fisch of Bradley Beach, NJ)

In the blessing given to Yehudah, Yaakov says "His eyes will be red from wine, and his teeth white from milk." [49:12] The direct meaning is, of course, that Yehudah and his children would be blessed with an abundance of good things.

Rabbi Yochanon in the Talmud (end of Kesubos, 111b), offers a lesson by changing one of the vowels in the text. The new reading is, "and to whiten his teeth, from [meaning: is better than] milk." He says: To whiten one's teeth to another - meaning to offer a warm smile - is better than giving him milk.

Too often, we think of charity as something to give to the poor, the sick, and the miserable - as if they were all the same. Is it necessary to be poor or sick in order to be miserable?

Certainly not - and our generation may have an abundance of material goods, but we also have an abundance of therapists. Many people today are lonely, sad - and in need of a warm smile. Yes, it's possible to give to a less fortunate person without writing a check! You can give to others every day - and find that many of them will give to you in return.

Text Copyright © 1996 Rabbi Yaakov Menken and Project Genesis, Inc.

The author is the Director of Project Genesis.



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