The Business Of Life

Friday, 12 May, 2023 - 2:14 pm

If G-d were to appear to you today, and ask you questions about the life-decisions you’ve made, what do you think the Almighty would ask you first?

Perhaps: “Did you respect your religion?” or “Did you make ample time and emotional space for family?” Maybe, “Did you help the poor?”

Interestingly, the Talmud tells us that the first question G-d will ask each of us when we approach the heavenly realm is: “Did you conduct your business faithfully?”

A few questions spring to mind: Why wouldn’t G-d prioritize holy pursuits? What about those of us who aren’t businesspeople? What message is the Talmud trying to tell us?

In one way or another, we all partake in the commercial marketplace. So, the first thing G-d wants to address, before He gets into the religious and higher-order emotional questions, is: Were you a faithful and honest citizen - customer, partner, merchant, etc.? When you went about your everyday ‘business’ with your neighbors – or strangers – were you completely authentic and trustworthy? Palpably feeling our moral compass in a House of Worship, or with loved ones, is beautiful. But we need to bring that faithfulness to Main Street, to strangers and associates.

What does that mean, in a practical sense?

Our Rabbis give us some key ingredients to a life of “conducting our business faithfully.”

1. Find satisfaction in what you already have. It’s fine to want more, but not to the extent that one is willing to compromise moral standards.

2. Be transparent. When we’re transacting with someone else, make sure we are FULLY sharing our understanding.

3. Err on the side of the OTHER person’s benefit.

In other words: Let your soul guide your actions. Don’t let your desire for ‘stuff’ sidetrack you from being a faith-worthy person.

Let’s take this deeper. A literal translation of G-d’s question is: “Did you carry and give with faith?” Did you pursue your daily give-and-take with ‘faith’ – the recognition that our lives are a Divine gift and that we’re playing them out in G-d’s world?

Think of your day ahead. The action items, the stresses, the uncertainties, the fears. Then zoom out to a panoramic view, and realize you’re in G-d’s loving hands, in G-d’s world. Curve balls – the business of life – will keep coming, because they’re part of G-d’s world.

Just don’t let them throw you off your game. Keep the faith. 

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