Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Protecting HaShem's Investment In You

A coworker stopped by and and asked if I knew where so-and-so (yet another coworker) sat.  I did and offered to show him rather than just explaining.  As we were walking he told me how nice I was to be doing this.  I, ever (falsely) modest, demurred that I need the exercise anyway.  "Ah," he noted, "so you are selfish."  I had no quip for that; it's essentially true.

There's a concept in halacha know as "zeh ne'he'neh v'zeh lo chahser"; literally: this one benefits and this one does not suffer a loss.  A classic example is where Ruvein has an unused apartment that he never rents out and has no guests who needs it now.  If Yehuda occupies the apartment, even without permission from Ruvein, he does not owe any rent for his use of the apartment.  Obviously, derech eretz demands that Yehuda get permission (and derech eretz kadma la'torah), but Yehuda lives there rent free, nonetheless.  Of course, if Ruvein usually rents out that apartment, then Yehuda is obligated to pay the normal nightly/weekly/monthly rate; we are talking about a case where Ruvein really has not lost any business nor even business opportunities.

More than that, Chazal note that there is a real benefit to having the apartment occupied; vacant apartments deteriorate over time.  Either because occupants will take care of normal upkeep, or because there is a malicious spirit who attacks empty dwellings; shades of Paranomal Activity (yes, pun intended).

Another name for this halacha is "kofin al midas S'dom" -- forcing/coercing someone not to engage in the root cause of evil in S'dom.  What's the root cause of everything bad you've heard about S'dom?  Being stingy with your stuff even when you suffer no loss and even prevent deterioration by allowing others to use your stuff; ie, selfishness on steroids.  Probably not what you thought.  Which is precisely why you need Chazal and their penetrating analysis.  (Honesty requires me to note that there is a machlokes about whether "kofin al midas S'dom" is the same as "zeh ne'he'neh v'zeh lo chahser".  The discussion, however, is only about how much force/coercion can be applied, but everyone agrees that is midas S'dom.)

It may come as a surprise, therefore, that Ruvein owes Yehuda money, then Yehuda should not help out Ruvein by occupying his empty apartment and thus preventing deterioration (Bava Kama 97a).  Why not?  Because people might think that Ruvein is letting Yehuda use his apartment because Yehuda lent him money -- and that looks like ribis/interest.  It's not ribis at all, but it looks like it.  So that means Yehuda shouldn't help out his friend Ruvein because it looks like Yehuda is involved with an issur?  Yehuda should be more careful with his own level of spirituality than with Ruvein's property?

Yes.  Yehuda has no right to sacrifice his level of spirituality, because it's not his to sacrifice.  We an all we are belong to HaShem, and one may not be religious on HaShem's tab.  So I wasn't being selfish when showed my coworker the way.  I was being careful with the Master's property.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…

Thought for the Day: Prayer II -- How?

Now that we know that the obligation to pray is nothing more (nor less!) than a divine decree, we are going to also need instructions from heaven on how to implement that decree.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to have instruction from heaven how to implement heavenly decrees.  One only needs to look at the shambles that one modern ism has made of the very important Torah principle of תיקון עולם/improving and fixing the world.  They have taken words out of context and used them to support their own nefarious schemes.  (To the point that Google Translate actually translates -- not transliterates -- תיקון עולם as Tikkun Olam.  Amelia Bedelia would be proud; we are not amused.

The Torah teaches us how to pray in two complementary fashions.  One is the way in which the concept is presented as an obligation, the other is by giving us examples of how to practically implement those instructions.

The obligation is introduced in the second paragraph of "sh'ma" -- וּלְ…