0 Posted by - August 14, 2014 - Devarim, Parsha


Parashat Ekev

businessman’s faith in G-d is constantly being tested. How much do you believe that G-d is in charge of your success, no less than you are? Your faith-o-meter, so to speak, goes up and down, according to a couple of factors. Time. How much of a workaholic are you? I.e., are you deviating from what you know is right, lowering your level of religious observance, taking away from family time, other obligations, just to make the extra buck? Stress. Anger, frustration, and obsessive behavior are signs indicating how much you believe G-d is involved. Honesty and integrity. Preserving your good reputation by keeping your word, being careful to make win-win negotiations and fair deals. Last and not at all least, staying positive.

One of the first questions one is asked after a hundred and twenty years before being let into Paradise  is, Did you conduct your business dealings with good faith? “Faith” involves all of the above. In this week’s Parasha, there is a much quoted verse. Man does not live by bread alone, but by G-d’s word, does man live.

There was a man who had a plastic bag company. Sandwich bags. 1000 per pack. His wife commented that no one counts how many bags there are in a package.  She said he did not have to put 1000 in the pack. And so, instead of putting 1000 bags in the pack, he put 950. He made more money this way. [Quite frequently, the more money people make, the more they want…] And, he went down to 900. A couple of years went by, and the “sandwich bag thief”, wanting to repent, visited a great Rabbi in Israel.

Our Rabbis teach that Yom Kippur, suffering in this world, death, hell, etc.,  all atone for sins between man and G-d. But the sins between man and his fellow are not forgiven until the one wronged forgives. There is no way that the “sandwich bag man” can get the forgiveness from all of his sandwich bags clients, and he needs to return to them all that he has stolen. He made a sale, promising to insert 100 more bags per sale. How can he contact his customers to return the amount of bags that he stole? He is up the creek without a paddle.

Just then, the Rabbi thought of an amazing, but difficult, idea. From now on, he can return the missing number of bags to most of his clients by putting in an extra 100 per pack. 1100 sandwich bags, instead of 1000. Chances are that the shopper who bought in the past will buy again; this way, he will be returning the plastic sandwich bags that he owes. It would be difficult to be competitive this way, but in order to gain atonement, it’s worth it.

Shortly after, this fellow returned to the Rabbi in Israel and told him the continuation of the story… One bored customer counted the contents , and found that there were more bags than the number that was stated on the package.  He decided to contact consumer reports. This was interesting news! Someone delivering more goods than was promised on the packaging! The business of this repenting Jew rose to #1 in his field, and he became very wealthy in the process!

I love this story. It shows how G-d helps the one who wants to repent. It reveals, in full spectrum, the speed with which dealing with trust and integrity works for the business person to reach success. And, most importantly, that Man does not live by bread alone, but by that which issues from G-d’s mouth does man live.

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