I am coming to the end of my speech, with one objection, which is both an urge and an objection. Our great David, devout among the kings and king among the devotees, he asks God in affectionate prayer to answer him because he is poor and miserable:

הטה ה’ אזנך ענני כי־עני ואביון אני

Incline your ear, oh Lord, answer me for I am poor and needy.

(Tehillim – Psalms 86:1)

Oh, my God! Does a king so pious and holy not have any other resource or motive to allege other than poverty, to implore the acceptance of his petitions? Why he cannot invoke his justice or his liberal charity?

ויהי דוד עושה משפט וצדקה לכל עמו

David executed true judgment and (social) justice among his people.

(Shmuel II – II Samuel 8:15)

Why he cannot invoke his true charity.

חסדי דוד הנאמנים

The reassuring compassion of David.

(Yeshayahu – Isaiah 55:3)

Why he cannot invoke his unmatched mercy.

שמרה נפשי כי חסיד אני

Watch my soul for I am a compassionate man.

(Tehillim – Psalms 86:2)

Why he cannot invoke his particular resignation? Why he cannot invoke his confidence? Why he cannot invoke his penitence? Why he cannot invoke his suffering? Why he cannot invoke these holy attributes associated with him, and only invokes his poverty and misery?

הטה ה’ אזנך ענני כי־עני ואביון אני

Incline your ear, oh Lord, answer me for I am poor and needy.

(Tehillim – Psalms 86:1)

Eliyahu revived a child, Elisha revived another. Eliyahu revived that of the Surafend woman. Elisha revived that of the Shunammite woman. Eliyahu resurrected her’s with ease. Elisha with great difficulty. Elisha’s difficulty in the miracle makes it difficult for me to understand. Tell me, sirs, during Eliyahu’s abduction, did not Elisha ask him to duplicate his spirit?

ויהי נא פי שנים ברוחך אלי

Let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.

(Melachim II – Kings II 2:9)

Was this not granted on any condition, other than if he saw him raise to heaven, as a manifest signal of granting what he asked?

אם תראה אתי לקח מאתך יהי לך כן

If you see me taken from you, it will be so to you

(Melachim II – Kings II 2:10)

And did Elisha not see with his own eyes the abduction venerable and beloved master?

ואלישע ראה

And Elisha saw

(Melachim II – Kings II 2:12)

If Elisha possesses the duplicate spirit of Eliyahu, why did Eliyahu revive the child with so much ease and Elisha with so much difficulty? Sirs, you know why: Elisha was a wealthy man and Eliyahu was poor. There is no need to prove that Eliyahu was poor, since he always begged for sustenance. The wealth of Elisha is proved by his ownership of his farms, land, and twelve pairs of oxes to plow the land.

וימצא את אלישע בן שפט והוא חרש שנים עשר צמדים לפניו

He found Elisha, the son of Shafat, as he was plowing; twelve yoke (of oxen) were before him

(Melachim I – Kings I 19:19)

Now I understand. Since the petition of the poor brings deliverance without delay, Eliyahu, poor, had his petition delivered, Elisha also had his petition delivered, although more requested, more insisted and more delayed.

This doctrine is not mine, it is God’s Himself, who protests and expresses that in his divine Tribunal the vexed poor be heard and delivered.

והיה כי יצעק אלי ושמעתי כי חנון אני

Therefore, if he cries out to Me, I will listen, for I am gracious.

(Shemot – Exodus 22:26)

It does not say because he is just, but rather because he is gracious.

כי חנון אני

for I am gracious.

(Shemot – Exodus 22:26)

It is important to realize that there are two courts in heaven, one of Justice and another one of Grace. In the court of justice the words of the accuser are weighed in the balance with the ones of the convict, and when the argument of the latter is superior to words of the other, the accuser turns into a convict, and the convict into a accuser. Then, first the accuser is punished and afterwards, the one about who he is complaining.

ממהרין לצועק יותר מן הנצעק

Quicker is punished the accuser than the one he is accusing.

(Bava Kamma 93a)

But in the court of Grace neither the qualities are weighed in the balance, nor the actions are examined, nor the sins of the accuser, because this court has an open door for the poor (and for any reason) the poor are delivered.

והיה כי יצעק אלי ושמעתי כי חנון אני

Therefore, if he cries out to Me, I will listen, for I am gracious.

(Shemot – Exodus 22:26)

By pleading dissatisfaction, was delivered, by manifesting extortion, was vindicated and by representing trickeries was vented.

ושמעתי כי חנון אני

And I will listen, for I am gracious.

(Shemot – Exodus 22:26)

This is the reason why David puts poverty ahead of the other attributes, even when the latter were also fully devoted and holy.

הטה ה’ אזנך ענני כי־עני ואביון אני

Incline your ear, oh Lord, answer me for I am poor and needy.

(Tehillim – Psalms 86:1)

*From the Victories of Poverty by Rabbi David Nieto. London, 1709 (5469)

First translation from Judaeo-Spanish by Walter Hilliger © 2018 (5778)