Shmuel and Avlet, a Persian astrologer, were sitting together watching people go to the pond to cut reeds.
Avlet said to Shmuel, “That man over there is going to go to the pond, but he won’t come back. A snake is going to bite him and he’ll die.”
Shmuel said, “If he’s a charitable Jew, he’ll return.”
Sure enough, as they were sitting, the man came back.
Avlet stood up and took the man’s bundle of reeds off his back. Inside, among the reeds, was a snake that had been cut in two.
Shmuel asked the man, “You must have done something good to be saved from death like that. What was it?”
The man answered, “Every day, all of us put all our food together and then share it. Today, one man had nothing to share and he was embarrassed, so I told everyone, ‘Today I’m going to collect the food.’ When I got to him, I pretended to take something from him so that he wouldn’t be embarrassed.”
Shmuel said to him, “That was very charitable of you.” and then explained the phrase ‘Charity saves one from death’ (Proverbs 10:2) to mean not just that it saves from an unnatural death, but that it saves one from death itself.
— the harbinger