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The Steipler Returned The Check: ‘I’m Not Poor, Thank G-d’

JERUSALEM (VINnews) — In times when Israeli leaders fight to gain tax breaks from the state despite nearly 25% unemployment in Israel due to coronavirus, it is illuminating to see how a rabbinic leader acted during a similar period of economic depression when he received a present in honor of the Pesach festival.

The Kedem auction house is now auctioning a letter from the Steipler, Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Kanievski, written to the Bnei Brak municipality in 1985, just a few months before his death. The municipality had decided to send him a check for 400,000 NIS (which due to the hyperinflation at the time was worth much less) as “participation in the printing of his books.” The Steipler answered in a letter in which he returned the check, stating that “I do not accept any help except for taxes (municipal rates) which the Torah absolved me from. I am not poor thank G-d.” The letter concluded with the Steipler’s wishes to the mayor: “I seek his welfare and honor him according to his lofty status.”

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