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Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Put your money where you mouth is

Daf Yomi Gittin 22

Judea was crumbling.  Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans had wrought havoc and calamity upon the Jewish state and it was clear that it was only a matter of time.  The Prophet Jeremiah had been thrown into prison for prophesying that King Tzidkiyahu would be taken captive by the Chaldeans. 

But just then Jeremiah receives a prophecy: “Behold, Chanamel, the son of Shallum your uncle, shall come to you, saying: Buy my field that is in Anathoth; for the right of redemption is yours to buy it.” 

Seriously?!  Who in their right mind would consider buying real estate when the country was being destroyed?  And yet, Jeremiah heeds the prophecy, making the purchase and sending the documentation to Baruch ben Neriyah for safekeeping, with the message, “Place them in an earthenware vessel, so that they will survive for length of days.”

Mishnah: One may write a bill of divorce with anything: with ink, with paint, with red dye, with gum, with ferrous sulfate, or any lasting substance.
Rabbi Elazar (of the Gemara) taught: Rabbi Elazar (of the Mishnah) only permitted any substance for divorce documents; but not with any other documentation.  For Jeremiah declared, “Place them in an earthenware vessel, so that they will survive for length of days.”

Jeremiah was in it for the long haul.  He had complete faith in Heaven that the exile would only be temporary.   He had prophesied the exile and eventual return of the Jewish people.  Now he was willing to put his money where his money was and invest in the future.

Hashem has the power to fulfil your greatest dreams and aspirations.  If you believe in His limitless power, all your heart’s desires will be fulfilled.  But it’s not enough just to pay lip service.  If you truly believe, you will make the tangible investment.  Jeremiah didn’t just tell the people that Hashem would return them to the Land of Israel; when everyone else was fleeing from the property market and investing in movable assets like gold and diamonds, he purchased a piece of real estate.  Jeremiah demonstrated to the people what real faith entails.

They tell the story of the time there was a drought in the city and the tzadik (holy man) tells the townsfolk to gather in the town square the next day for prayers.  ‘If you have true belief in the Almighty,’ he says to them, ‘He will send us a downpour of rain! 

The next day, everyone comes to the town square as instructed, ready to receive the blessing that they believe is forthcoming.  But then the tzadik arrives, looks at them, shakes his head, turns around, and starts heading back home.  The townsfolk start running after him, bewildered.

‘Why are you going home?’ they ask him.
‘Because you don’t really believe that Hashem will send the rain,’ he replies.
‘Of course we do!’ they cry.
‘No, you clearly don’t,’ he says. ‘If you truly believed that Heaven was about to send a downpour of rain, you would have all come wearing raincoats and carrying umbrellas!’

It’s time to stop saying you believe Hashem will provide.  Now you need to do something incredible to demonstrate you truly believe.  May the Almighty take the seeds of faith you sow and make them bloom!  

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