It's Not What You Do, It's How You Do It
There is a story about a man who owned a tavern and did much HACNASAS ORCHIM. However, his tavern burnt down. The owner went to the Kotzker Rav and asked him why did it happen. He answered that the Posuuk says “EISHEL AVRAHAM” which spells out ACHILA, SHTIYA AND LEVIAH ( eating drinking and escorting). You only did achila and shtiya not leviah and that spells out aish fire that is why your tavern burned down. How do we understand this? Practically the man did do HACNASAS ORCHIM? The yesod is that if Chesed is not done right it is destructive for the giver and the recipient.
The Possuk says in Mishlei that getting something from a TZORI EIYIN , miserly individual, is as bad as smoke to the eyes and vinegar to the teeth. Because the DEGREDATION AND THE LOSS OF SELF ESTEEM THAT YOU RECEIVE OUTWEIGHS ANY BENEFITS GOTTEN!
It says in Avos that you should be like the students of Aron LOVE PEOPLE AND BRING THEM TO TORAH. Why is loving people a prerequisite for teaching them Torah? What is the intention of the person doing Kiruv? Do they view their “TALMID “ as a CHEFSHE SHEL MITZVAH (an object to do a Mitzvah on)? They really do not care about them. All there care about is looking good in Shamayin “LOOK I BROUGHT ANOTHER JEW BACK TO JUDAISM” This can be extremely destructive to the person. They can send them in a direction that is not best suited for them. They can get a bitter taste of religion that could corrupt their view of religion for the rest of their lives. Only if you truly love another Jew and sincerely care about their happiness and their unique AVODAS HASHEM can you go into Kiruv. Then the Kiruv is not about your personal gain it is about helping the person get closer to Hashem and find their place in Judaism.
Why is it fire without escorting the guest? Because the giver comes to think that he is a big Tzaddik. He is not doing Avodas Hashem. He is feeding his ego. The more “Chessed” he does the deeper he gets into the clutches of the SITRA ACHER. Unless he escorts his guest and sincerely cares about people. He is truly concerned about their needs and their respect then the motivation of his Chessed is questionable. How do you know if you are doing the right path? You will be given more opportunities to do Chessed and then it will be seen how you will deal with it.
There is a story about a man who was not wealthy but he did an enormous amount of Chessed. His Rebbe gav him a Beracha of wealth. The Beracha came true, but the more money the guy got the less Chessed he did until he stopped. The Rebbe came to him to his beautiful house with all the fancy furnishings. The man said Rebbe your Beracha came true. The Rebbe said where are all the poor people? He said an important man like me can’t have beggars coming into my house ruining my furniture and carpets. The Rebbe brought him to the window and asked him what he saw and he said Rebbe I see the people of the town. He brought him to a mirror and asked him what he saw. He said Rebbe I see myself. He asked him what is the difference between a mirror and a window? A thin coating of silver on the back. When a man has a thin coating of silver in his pocket all he can see is himself.
There is a general misunderstanding of Tzedakka and Chessed. We say in the Hagada ‘THIS IS OUR BREAD OF AFFLICTION. ALL POOR PEOPLE COME AND JOIN ME FOR THE MEAL” Why start with “this is the bread of affliction”. Just say all that need a meal join me? In order to understand how to properly treat poor people, we have to make them feel like they are part of the family and not an object of charity. This is done by us realizing we were once poor and had nothing. This is the bread of our affliction. We went through terrible suffering. We have to feel the pain of our guest and then they will feel apart of our Seder. The reality is when we do Chessed or Tzedakka we are really doing it for ourselves. The poor person will get the money no matter what. Hashem gives us the opportunity to do this act of kindness so that we get the zechus for ourselves. Then we can start paying back the tremendous debts that we owe Hashem. Really a poor person is doing us the favor by taking our money. Once we say this is the bread of our affliction, how terrible our situation used to be. Now Hashem redeemed us and made us financially sound so that we are now in a position to invite guests, we realize what a debt that we owe Hashem. That why we say to the poor please come to our Seder so that we can begin to pay back Hashem for all the good he has done for us.
We have to realize that even the greatest act of Chessed, if it is not done properly or without the proper intentions, turns into AISH, fire a destructive force that could consume both parties.