Giving tzedaka helps us the most
Translated and abridged from a recent shiur by Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita
[Once, Rabbi Chiya and Rabbi Yose wanted to give a poor starving person some food, but someone else beat them to the punch, and gave this person food before they could reach him.]
Rabbi Chiya used to goad Rabbi Yose all the time: ‘Oy, why didn’t we merit to do that mitzvah?’ A person wants to give tzedaka to someone, when someone comes along that he can give tzedaka to, he feels happy.
‘I wanted to give him 10 shekels, or 100 shekels, but look, someone else gave him first. I just earned 100 shekels, see what I just lost out on. I earned 100 shekels, but I could have earned 1000 shekels, I could have earned 10,000 shekels….’
So then a person thinks that it’s such a shame, that other person just took the mitzvah, that ploni (some other person) gave the tzedaka. When someone knocks on your door, sometimes before you manage to open it they’ve already gone to knock on another door. You’re happy, you managed to get rid of them….
You don’t know what a big yeshua (salvation, miracle) Hashem wanted to give to you just now! If you were just a little faster, you’d have earned that mitzvah. So Rabbi Chiya sait to Rabbi Yose, ‘why didn’t we merit to do that mitzvah? We could have gone a little faster, and then he would have come over to us, instead. Why did that other person merit [to give tzedaka] and we didn’t?’
A person who sees that they took the mitzvah of tzedaka away from him, that someone else gave tzedaka instead of him, he needs to feel sorry about this, and to say:
‘Why didn’t I merit [to give tzedaka] and he did?’