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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Some people have too many electrons

Daf Yomi Nedarim 59

As the prophet Elisha watched his mentor, Elijah, disappear into the clouds on a heavenly chariot, he said to himself, ‘One day, I hope I can have a mentee to whom I can impart all the teachings my rebbe taught me.’  But search as he may, Elisha never managed to find the right student that he could click with.

Until one day, he met Gehazi.  He was wise beyond his years.  He was charismatic.  He was adorable. 
‘This man will be my disciple,’ Elisha declared, relieved that G-d had sent the young man his way.  But it was not long before Elisha began to realize that Gehazi wasn’t all he was cracked up to be.  Yes, he was charming; yes he was intelligent; but he didn’t seem to be in it for G-d.  He was bringing a bad name to Elisha’s house.

One day, an Assyrian general, Naaman, came to Elisha to be cured of his leprosy.  The man of G-d healed him and Naaman asked him how much he wanted.   Refusing payment, he explained that cures were in the Almighty’s hands alone.  With that, Naaman departed, but no sooner had he left than Gehazi followed and quickly caught up to him.
‘There was a misunderstanding,’ he fibbed. ‘My teacher, Elisha, asked me to tell you that he could really use the money to support some poor yeshiva boys in the area.’
‘Of course!’ responded Naaman, pulling out his chequebook and writing a hefty sum over to the lad.

Upon his return, Elisha called him out on his behaviour and determined that the time had come to cut him loose from his entourage.  The prophet had wanted this relationship to work so badly, but he finally understood that Gehazi was simply having a negative impact on his Divine mission. 

The Torah declares, “Tithe you shall tithe all the produce of your seed.”
Ran: The meaning of the double expression is that with regards to your produce that has already been tithed, when you replant the root it becomes nullified in the totality of the new growth and the entire amount must be reckoned for tithing purposes.  In other words, the root, which already once fulfilled its tithing obligations, is now subject to tithing once again.
Beraisa: If a litre of maaser tevel (untithed levite-owned produce) was planted in the ground and blossomed into ten litres, one must calculate how much to tithe on account of the original litre and separate it from elsewhere.
The Gemara asks: Why doesn’t the original litre become nullified in the totality brought about by the new nine growth litres?
The Gemara answers: People sow permissible items.  People do not sow prohibited items.
Ran: The ruling that the growth nullifies the root only applies in the case of permissible plantings.

As we go through life we develop relationships and friendships.  Some of those are healthier than others.   You wouldn’t knowingly invest in bad business and stock portfolios; why would you invest in unhealthy relationships?  Wise people sow and invest in the permissible – those relationships that help them fulfill their mission on earth.  They don’t sow and invest in the prohibited – in unhealthy relationships that simply drag you down and keep you from your mission.

You should never be mean to anyone, especially not to those with whom you’ve enjoyed a lengthy relationship.  But permissible, healthy, positive relationships should be sown; and the negative relationships need not be sown.  Those people that are keeping you from being your best in life – due to their negativity and cynicism and pessimistic outlook – you shouldn’t feel the need to sow and invest in such relationships.  The Almighty placed certain people into your life to fill a particular role at a specific juncture and phase of your time on earth; once that time has passed, you need to determine whether or not to continue sowing and investing. 

Of course, if the other person needs your support and assistance, you must never forsake them.  But establish boundaries and make it clear to them that you are there to help but you won’t put up with negativity and toxicity in your life.  Sometimes it’s as simple as teaching them the 80/20 rule – that for every complaint or negative comment that issues forth from their mouths, there must be four positive comments.  In no time at all, they will find themselves becoming transformed into sources of positive energy! 

And certainly, we’re not talking about those close familial relationships that the Torah obligates us to maintain.  A cohen generally may not attend a funeral.  And yet for his seven closest relatives – spouse, mother, father, daughter, son, sister, brother – he must be there.  If that’s true of death, then how much more so, during life – you must never turn your back on those closest to you, no matter how difficult they might be.  But other than those seven, you need to assess and constantly reassess if the people in your life are dragging you down or bringing you up.  Are they holding you back or are they igniting the fire of your destiny?

Some people just have too many electrons.  As a positively charged individual, you might be attracted to such negativity.  But don’t let them stymie your positive growth.  There’s only so long you can be around negativity before it starts affecting you.  May you merit only positive energy in everything you do and from all those G-d sends into your life!