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Itís Your Business

A story is told of a young, illiterate man from a village who left his parents' home to seek his fortune in a distant village. One day a letter arrived for him, and he went to a more learned neighbor to ask him to read it. The neighbor opened the letter and read: “We are very sorry to inform you that your father has died.” The young man, who was not expecting this news, immediately fainted. 

The neighbor, who had read this news with his own eyes rather than hearing it second-hand, was hardly affected at all. His listener, who could not read at all, was so shaken up that he fainted. Why? Because the news pertained to him. It was his father that died, and therefore only he fainted, not the one who merely read the letter.

*

We are now at the end of the month of Elul, the last month of the year. Now is an appropriate time for soul searching, to end off the old year and start the new one on the proper note. How did we spend the past year? How have we grown, and what do we still need to improve?

In the business world it is normal to perform a complete stock-taking at the end of each business year. Accountants and bookkeepers go over their records, and managers review their orders and inventory. They add up their expenses and revenues to determine their profits. They examine their mistakes to determine how to avoid them next time, and also review their successes, to reinforce and build on them.

You can hire a consultant to review your books for you, but as the business owner, you are the one who will really take the outcome to heart.  The consultant will provide an objective accounting; but it's not their money in the bank, it's not their profits or losses. They won't get excited when the company shows robust gains, or panic if the company is failing.

The same is true in the Jewish life cycle. Once a year we are told to make an honest accounting of our personal lives. It's a personal, private undertaking, and must be brutally honest. How much time have we spent on Torah study, prayer, fulfillment of mitzvot? Have we grown in our personality and character?

We do not study Torah and perform mitzvot as "employees" who have no personal stake -- we own a share in this business. The more successful we are in fulfilling our spiritual mission, the greater will be our personal benefit.

*

 

The "business" of Torah and mitzvot has an end goal--to bring ourselves and the world to a state of complete Redemption. Through Torah and mitzvot, we transform the world and bring it to perfection, when G-dliness will be clearly revealed.

As long as we have not yet accomplished this goal, our account books will show a deficit. There's no way to cover it up. We need to bring this exile to an end. When the Redemption comes it will be a clear profit for all of us, and every moment that goes by in exile is an irrevocable loss.

Every one of us knows the area where we can improve. By taking on just one good resolution, even in a small area, we have the power to cause a lasting change in the world and bring about the long-awaited, true and complete Redemption.
 

 


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