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The Business of Life

Friday, 24 May, 2019 - 11:58 am

When I reflect on my life and my role in the world, the word 'merchant' doesn't come to mind.

I guess I need to think again.

Trade is an exchange of goods and commodities. When I buy something it comes into my possession, and when I sell something else is taking title. That's basic business.

It's also a framework for life.

Consciously or not, we tend to divide our lives into two conceptual domains or orbits: The important and the less-than-important. Then we assign tasks, relationships and experiences to one orbit or the other.

That categorization is hugely important. When someone special is calling your cell about something we consider less-than-important, we need to consider: The topic may be trivial, but the relationship is not. If the relationship is an important one, each interaction – even this 'mundane moment' – is actually an opportunity for 'relationship-building'. Once we recognize that, we may still choose to defer the specific conversation until later, but that will be from a healthy and respectful position.

And rest assured: If you that way, the other person will too.

So, in 'commercial' language, I need to ‘secure’ slices of life from the trivial domain, and lift them into a meaningful orbit.

This also applies to my relationship with the Divine.

If I eat a bowl of vegetable soup for lunch today, that’s relatively trivial.

But does it need to be?

What if I approach my ‘mundane’ lunch with a Torah paradigm? What i+f I first thank my Creator for this incredible life and the food I'm about to eat? What if I'm conscious of my need to make a difference in the world, and my need for nutrition as fuel?

If I'm mindful and focused, I can transfer my simple meal from the mundane to the meaningful; the bowl of soup becomes a tool in my life’s mission.

To use the terms of Chassidic thought: When I take a situation and infuse it with meaning, I'm ‘acquiring’ it for the Divine. That's spiritual commerce.

Interestingly, our prayer liturgy, refers to G-d as (if we translate the words literally) "the Purchaser of all things” (‘Koneh Hakol’ in Hebrew).

G-d gave us a world that seems disconnected from meaning, out of the Holy 'domain'. Our job is to 'buy it back'.

We have a business opportunity with profits that are out of this world.

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