Biblical Personalities: Asher: Alshich Hakadosh
“Asher’s bread will be rich.” (Genesis 49:20) Asher’s part of the land is due to his specific merit. In order to indicate this, the verse begins with the letter “mem,” as if to say, “it is from Asher,” – it is from his merit.
The special merit of Asher is that he provides, ‘ma’adanei Melech,’ king sized gifts – to charitable causes without he himself indulging in a lavish, royal lifestyle.
There are three 7-words verses in the Bible, each of which has as its fourth word the word, ‘vihu,’ ‘and he.’ They are Genesis 4:20, Isaiah 32:8, and Job 28:23. The scholars who count the words of the Bible may have wanted us to remember from these three verses that there are three different ways of giving charity:
1) The giver gives to the recipient something of better quality than he himself is in the habit of consuming. Asher is an example of this trait.
2) Someone who donates to charity and encourages others to do the same. This applies to the verse in Isaiah where we find that he counseled others to be generous.
3) The most superior form of giving charity is that of giving anonymously, without one’s being aware of the recipient’s identity. This is what is referred to in Job – only God knows where it comes from, “God understands its path.”
The word ‘vihu,’ in the middle of these three verses of equal length is the key to interpreting them this way.
An alternative way of understanding all this is that charity has to be given frequently to many people as only God can be sure that the recipient is indeed deserving. ‘Vihu,” only He truly understands its path.