Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Fine for Taking a Mitzvah is 10 Gold Dinarim (~ $792.00 on Jan 17, 2014 CE)

S'char mitzvah b'hai alma leicha!  The reward for even the smallest mitzvah is so unimaginably huge that it can't be fit into this world.  Wow!  Holy Amazing Olam HaBah, Batman!  Take, for example, the mitzvah of tzedaka; a real, live, Torah mandated mitzvah.  Let's keep this "small", say... giving a dollar to the m'shulach who is trudging though this freezing winter in Chicago.  He walks by during chazaras ha'shatz and you absent-mindedly (except to make darn sure he isn't trying for a second dollar this year) hand him a dollar.  We all know and believe that the reward for that mitzvah is greater than all the wealth in this world.

Theoretically, that is.  I haven't tried this experiment, but I am confident of my prediction as to the outcome.  The experiment is to have two different collectors going through beis medrashim... which collector goes to which beis medrashim chosen at random.  One collector goes with a green card and gives a the mitzvah of tzedaka for each dollar he collects.  The other collector gives a diamond for each dollar he collects and has a notarized note attesting to the diamond's authenticity.  My prediction: No one is going to turn away the collector with diamonds; in fact, people will be borrowing money to exchange as many dollars as possible for those diamonds.

The problem is that "unimaginable reward" is just that -- unimaginable, and therefore essentially irrelevant to our daily lives.  Let's see if we can't make this more real.

The gemara (Bava Kama 91b) recounts that someone covered the blood of a bird that had been slaughtered by another Jew.  The Torah gives that mitzvah of kisu'i ha'dahm to the one who spilled the blood, so the shochet took the case to beis din.  Rabban Gamliel levied a fine of 10 gold dinarim.  According to Rashi (Bava Kamma 36a, dh dinar zahav), a gold dinar is worth 25 zuz.  According to R' Chaim Naeh  (Shiurey Torah 3:42), a zuz is 4.8 grams of silver.  That means that Rabban Gamliel levied a fine of $792 (price of silver on Jan 17, 2014 CE).  Oh, and we pasken that way; see Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 382:1 (there's only one syef, this p'sak is near the end).

The G"ra says that when speaking in learning, the saying of each and every word fulfills a mitzvah.  Suppose Shmendrick walks into a beis medrash with 10 people learning and he announces the score of some sports match.  Let's just say that stops everyone from learning for 10 seconds.  According to Yahoo, the average speaking rate is 120 - 150 words per minute.  Using the small number, that mean that Shmendrick just took away 200 mitzvos (10 people * 120 words/minute * 1 minute/60 seconds * 10 seconds).  That means he just incurred a fine of $158,400.

I don't know about you, but I can't afford that.  So if I don't discuss sports (or current events, or physics) with you in beis medrash, it's not because I am rude and anti-social (I mean, I am rude and anti-social, but that's just not the reason I don't have those discussions in beis medrash).  It's just because I can't afford it.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…

Thought for the Day: Hydroponically Grown Humans... I Feel Sick

I am quite openly not at all objective about abortion in particular and the treatment of human embryos and fetuses in general.  I am, after all, the survivor of a failed abortion attempt.  Not "thought about it, but couldn't go through with it"; not "made appointment, but then chickened out at the lost moment"; but, "tried a procedure, but was unsuccessful in attempt to abort".  Nonetheless, I try very hard to listen to the liberal arguments (which I also used to chant as part of the general liberal catechism), and am genuinely empathetic to the plight of women who find themselves in that difficult position.

What I heard on NPR this morning, however, has left me feeling physically ill.  You can read about it, if you like, but here's the bottom line:  Scientists in Cambridge have achieved a new record, they fertilized a human ova and then kept it alive in vitro (that is, in a test tube/petri dish in a laboratory) for 14 days.  The scientist involve…