Xue zhong song tan
To offer someone in dire straits material or psychological help
Once, the second emperor of the Song dynasty, Zhao Guangyi and his father, the founding emper, Zhao Kuangyin were attempting to unite all of China under their rule. They had met with members of all social classes, and thus were well acquainted with the suffering of the masses.
One winter the weather was bitterly cold. In the northwest part of the country there was a violent blizzard that lasted three days. Even though Zhao Guangyi was inside his house and wearing a fur coat he felt the drafts and was chilled all over. Meanwhile, outside the palace the air was cold and the ground was frozen. With every burst of wind the tree branches would rattle, “Gezhi, Gezhi.”Zhao Guangyi looked out at the swirling snow, thinking “It’s so cold in Bianliang” (present-dayKaifeng in Henan province.) “There are so many poor people here. I wonder how they’re keeping warm?”
When he had thought of this, Zhao Guangyi called all the magistrates in Kaifeng to the palace. He said to them, “This bitter weather is hard even for us to bear, and we have good food and warm clothes. How can the common people who have nothing bear it?” Take some grain, clothes, and charcoal to the poorest people in your areas and see who you can help.
The magistrates received his command, and took three squads of soldiers to prepare warm clothes, grain, and charcoal. Then they went from house to house and asked whether anyone was in need. They also told the soldiers to leave enough charcoal and clothes. The common people who received the supplies were moved to tears. Thus the good deed of “delivering charcoal in the snow” was passed down to us.