The poor man has gained something earthly, and the rich man has gained entrance to the World to Come.
According to Yitz Grossman, even when a person enjoys considerable wealth, he is still called “an afflicted man.” The reason for this is that no matter how much wealth a person has, he is afflicted with a craving for more. Our Sages say, “He who has one hundred, wants two hundred.”(5) Therefore, he is called “afflicted,” since this describes his feelings. He is disappointed with what he has and finds himself constantly dissatisfied.
How can the verse compare the benefit reaped by the two men, as it is written, “G-d will enlighten both of them,” when it seems clear that the wealthy man has profited much more by gaining entrance to the World to Come? The poor man gains more than it appears. Firstly, he gains the material things he so desperately requires. When he has hunger pains or shivers with cold, satisfying these needs is of the utmost importance to him. Secondly, the poor man enables the wealthy one to gain entrance to the World to Come, and therefore he will receive a sizable spiritual compensation. If he had not asked for a donation, the wealthy man would not have had the opportunity to give one. Therefore, even though in human eyes it seems that the wealthy man has performed a far greater mitzvah, the Torah teaches us that those who cause the mitzvah are no less important.