Rav Avigdor Miller on The Tzadik Who Begs For Bread
Dovid Hamelech said: ולא ראיתי צדיק נעזב וזרעו מקבש לכם – that he never saw a righteous man who was forsaken by Hashem and had to beg for bread (Tehillim 37:25). How do you reconcile this statement with the fact that we see many poor families who have a difficulty making a living and they have to go out to beg?
It says, לא ראיתי צדיק נעזב – I don’t see a tzaddik who is forsaken and his children have to seek out bread. So how do we reconcile that with the fact that we see it’s not so?
And the answer is – you’ll have to forgive me; I mean that those people will have to forgive me – but not everybody whom you think is a tzaddik, actually is. The fact that a person seems to you to be a tzaddik, may just be a superficiality; a tzaddik is something that is usually an inner attitude of a person. And therefore, it’s very hard for me to answer that question in general; but specifically each case that you think of, it could be that he’s not.
Sometimes there are exceptions, but by and large we have to say that tzaddikim don’t beg. When a person is מבקש לחם – he begs, it’s a sign that something’s wrong. Why doesn’t he work? Real tzaddikim don’t beg – they prefer to work, any kind of work.
Now, sometimes a person works hard, but it’s not enough – he needs extra money to pay for schar limud for his children. So he’s not mevakesh lechem; he’s mevakesh schar limud. He seeks schar limud. But for lechem, he’s working.
But when a person is a loafer and he’s מטיל עצמו על הציבור, he throws himself on the community for support, I don’t see what kind of tzaddik he is. I know one person like that, a ba’al teshuva who came from out of town. He’s a big ba’al teshuva – or so he thinks – he grew a big beard and now he goes around among the chassidishe shtiblach and he begs. Is that a way for a ba’al teshuva to be? A ba’al teshuva has to throw himself on frum Jews to support him? Why doesn’t he work? That itself shows that he’s not a genuine ba’al teshuva — that’s not a tzaddik.