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Chose: Immediate Profit or Everlasting Reward?

Published on Tuesday March 2nd, 2021

What is better? Immediate profit or everlasting reward? Rav Eliezer Heilmann of Yeshiva "Nezer Yehoshua" answers this with a particularly powerful message using the words of our Sages.

Our Sages teach us in Pirkei Avot: "Consider the loss caused by doing a Mitzvah in relation to its reward and the profit of sin in relation to its loss". What does this sentence mean?

Let us look at a beautiful parable told by the Chofetz Chaim.

One day, a villager brought his harvest of freshly gathered wheat to the greatest wheat merchant in the area.

He arrived carrying bags, and he wanted to sell them to the merchant. But just before getting to the merchant, his friends warned him: "Pay attention to this merchant because he is very experienced in deceiving people in the business. Be careful because he is a liar! He is a very big merchant and you are after all only a simple villager. It is very easy for him to count your bags and to mislead you on the actual quantity in order to pay you less."

He then asked his friend's advice: "What can I do to avoid being tricked? He replied, "for every bag, you give the merchant, tell him to put a coin on the table. In the end, you will be able to count how many coins you have on the table, and thus it will be easy to calculate how many bags you have sold to him and how much he owes you."

And so it was. The villager went to the great wheat merchant, with bags. For each bag handed over, the merchant placed a coin on the table. One bag, one coin. Of course, the merchant who was a very cunning man waited quietly until the end of the transaction and then went to the back of the store to watch what would happen next.

The villager eyed the pretty pile of coins on the table, and could not resist the temptation and grabbed a large handful of coins that he immediately stuffed into his pocket, and he was very happy to have tricked the merchant by stealing money from him.

Immediately after this, the merchant came back into the room and said to the villager, "Let's now count how many coins are on the table so that we can calculate how much I owe you for each bag."

In your opinion, is this villager wise or stupid? Obviously, he is foolish. This poor villager, having concealed most of the coins in his pocket, deprived himself of a large sum of money. He thought he would win twenty coins, but in fact, he lost several thousand coins on each bag by removing the coins from the table.

The Chofetz Chaim explains this parable in the following way: A man thinks he can make a good deal to win something, but the truth is that he is the loser in the business. It sometimes happens that we faced with for example a food of questionable Kashrut or an opportunity that will divert us from our daily Torah study. Indeed, we have an immediate profit, but the truth is that we are losing our Future World! With one coin, we can lose whole bags of harvest that represent thousands of coins!

This is the explanation of the proverb of our Sages: "Consider the loss of a Mitzvah in relation to his reward and the profit of sin in relation to his loss. Is there an opportunity for you to commit a transgression of the Torah? Think about the consequence of your actions and how much you will lose! And on the contrary, when you are going to realize a Mitzvah, think carefully about what you will gain with each accomplishment of a Mitzvah.

The Torah-Box Team - © Torah-Box Account

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