Friday, October 04, 2013

Better Late Than Never?

The purpose of this email is to help you turn Friday night dinner banter into a thoughtful discussion. Please print and share.

In memory of Andrew Sarosi - Aharon ben Chaim - whose first yahrzeit was observed this week. May his memory be for a blessing.

Better Late Than Never?

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQAOvfwk8cPmW3symC96kyHj6UavsaFmBtnQUL9On5v0XEWVUoYThe other day I dropped our teenager off at the barbershop with a word of fatherly wisdom.

As I handed my son the tenspot, I said, "Don't forget to have in mind when you pay the barber that you're doing a mitzvah."

First question for your table: What mitzvah are you doing when you pay the barber?

Here's a clue in the form of a riddle:

What mitzvah is a chesed (kindness) if you do it and tantamount to murder if you don't do it?

Still don't get it? Alright I'll tell you.

Answer: "Thou shalt pay your worker on time."

Does the Torah really say that?

Sure does - Deuteronomy 24:14.

OK, if you read the actual verse, you might think it only means a poor person. (And I suppose that those people who read it casually or don't know about Judaism's Oral Tradition can interpret it in many ways, such as this and this and this.)

But the rabbis teach that this mitzvah:

1. Applies to any sort of wage earner, poor, rich or even middle-class
2. Is fulfilled if and only if you pay them before the end of the day that payment is due
3. Is only a spiritually-meaningful act ("mitzvah") if you have in mind that you're doing a mitzvah
4. In addition to the obvious benefit to the worker, has two benefits to the one who is paying

Second question for your table: What are the two benefits to the employer (including, in this case, my son)?

Shabbat Shalom

PS: This discussion is based on the idea that the Torah's essence, its fundamental principles, can be summed up in three words. Know what they are?

If you don't already know, watch this:

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