Yesterday we discussed two possible models for how bitul chameitz works: 1) Rashi – bitul fulfills the mitzvah of tashbisu; 2) Tosfos – bitul creates the circumstance (not owning chameitz) under which the mitzvah of tashbisu does not apply. Earlier in the week we had a discussion about charging for communal services which elicited a comment from Barzilai mentioning the Bais haLevi’s derush on tzedaka. By coincidence, that derasha (derush #1 in vol 2 of the Shu”T) proposes a similar lomdus regarding the mitzvah of tzedaka. The Bh”L distinguishes between two levels of giving: 1) Charity given lishma, which fulfills the mitzvah of tzedaka; 2) Charity given for ulterior motives, which removes the ani from poverty, creating a circumstance under which the mitzvah of tzedaka does not apply, but which itself is not a true fulfillment of the mitzvah. Make of it what you will: concidence, hashgacha, or Barzilai having ruach hakodesh and anticipating that these topics relate : )
Getting back to the topic of tzedaka for a moment, I wrote in the comments there that a poor person who gives $18 to tzedaka at great personal sacrifice gets far more reward than a millionaire who donates a lot of money which requires little sacrifice – l’fum tza’ara agra. The concept of “ain tzedaka mishtalemes elah l’fi chessed she’bah” (Sukkah 49b) is a proof to this very idea, as Rashi explains the chessed is the effort exerted in carrying out the tzedaka, e.g. if someone cooks food an gives it to a poor person, the cost of the food is the tzedaka, but the reward really stems from the chessed of expending effort in the shopping and cooking of the meal. In other words, putting a poor person’s restaurant tab on your credit card or cooking him a meal may accomplish the same end result, but the latter generates more reward than the former.
Here is the monkeywrench: Rashi (VaYikra 5:17) quotes a Toras Kohanim which says that if change falls from your pocket and a poor person picks it up, you get the reward for having fulfilled the mitzvah of tzedaka. Where is the l’fum tza’ara here – you didn’t even realize what happened!?
I think the simplest answer is that l’fum tza’ara agra means that reward is proportional to the effort expended, but there is certainly some level of reward even for an effortless kiyum mitzvah. Another possibility is that reward is accrued after the loss of money is discovered and the person does not try to recover it, but this seems to be a forced reading of Rashi (see R” Yosef Engel in Esvan D’Oraysa #23 for more on this topic). Any other ideas?