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Sunday, 22 March 2015

How much would you pay to ransom me?

Daf Yomi Kesubos 47

One of the many hats I wear is that of Assistant Chief Examiner for Religious Education in the Caribbean.  The role evolved from a friendship that a Caribbean pastor and I developed over many years, which had started when he found me online and began to ask me questions about Judaism for their curriculum.   Eventually, they decided that it made more sense to have a rabbi on staff to oversee the Judaism elective and he asked me to come on board.

My flight was all booked to Trinidad and I was making preparations to go when I happened to mention the trip to my close friend and colleague, Rabbi Jon Gross.
“How did they find you?” he asked me.
“On the internet,” I replied.
“Are you kidding me?” Rabbi Gross responded, “I’m guessing you’ve also sent money to your “relatives” in Nigeria when they’ve contacted you!  How do you know who they are?  Maybe it’s some massive scam and as soon as you get off the plane, they’ll abduct you and ransom you for an exorbitant sum of money?  You’re a rabbi – they know you have a community with millions of dollars of assets to pay to redeem you!”

The Mishnah states: If a daughter had property that she inherited from her mother’s family, her father may not partake of the produce of her field during her lifetime.  If she got married, the husband has greater rights in that he may partake of the produce of her field.

The Rabbis taught: A father may not partake of the produce during his daughter’s lifetime.  Rabbi Yossi the son of Rabbi Judah says a father may partake of the produce during his daughter’s lifetime.
What is the basis of their debate?  The first opinion takes the view that it makes sense that the Rabbis would have instituted that the husband should partake of the fruits.  Otherwise, if she were taken captive, he might hesitate paying the ransom (reasoning that she has her own personal assets). 
But concerning the father, how could you even suggest that he might hesitate to pay the ransom?  No matter what, he would redeem her!   

Every day, three times a day, we recite the prayer, “Blessed are you, Hashem, Who redeems Israel.”  No matter what issues you are dealing with in your life, your Father in Heaven will redeem you.  A father will always redeem his daughter.  Certainly, our Father will always redeem His daughter of Zion, the Jewish people.

Perhaps you are feeling financially underwater.  Maintain your faith in the Almighty.  He redeems.  Maybe you’re dealing with relationship issues.  Keep believing in the One Above.  He redeems.  Or maybe you’ve been handed a medical report that appears dire.  Trust in G-d.  He redeems. 

There is no problem too great, no ransom too expensive.  The Almighty can and will redeem you from all your troubles.  But you must maintain your faith in Him and turn to Him with the expectation of a child to a parent.  How could our Father not redeem His daughter?  It’s not a matter of what you owe Him or how much is in your personal account; He’s your Father and will redeem you, no matter what!

Above all, of course, we pray for the ultimate redemption, when G-d will bring us back to the Holy Land and rebuild the Temple, which will redeem us from all our personal issues in one fell swoop.  We trust and know that this will happen very soon – would a father leave his daughter in captivity? 

Trust in the Almighty.  He will redeem you from all your problems.  May you merit the faith to always turn to Him as a child turns to their parent knowing that He will be there for you and will never forsake you!

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