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Monday, 20 February 2017

Where's your umbrella?

Daf Yomi Bava Basra 28

Jerusalem was under siege.  While there was no shortage of false prophets predicting the loss of the enemy, Nebuchadnezzar, the one true prophet, Yirmiyahu, was undeterred in his message.  He boldly stood up and declared that the end was nigh.  The Babylonians would conquer the city and take King Tzidkiyahu captive.

That was too much for the king to bear!  How could Yirmiyahu utter such treasonous words?  The king nabbed the prophet and threw him into prison.  Suddenly, Yirmiyahu had a completely different vision.  He prophesied that his cousin Chanamel would appear at the prison seeking to sell his field.

Sure enough, Chanamel shows up and Yirmiyahu purchases the field.  He then instructs his scribe, Baruch ben Neriyah to secure the title deed in an earthenware container for the future.  Turning to the downtrodden people, the prophet declared, “Today, we are going into exile.  But in a few short decades, Hashem will return us to the Land of Israel.  Now is the time to buy!”

What is the source for the Rabbis’ dictum that in order to establish a presumption of property ownership, three years of unchallenged occupancy are required?
Rav Yosef says: Yirmiyahu declared, “They shall purchase fields with silver and inscribe and seal the transaction in a ledger.”  Now, the prophet made his declaration in the tenth year of King Tzidkiyahu and warned that they would be exiled in year eleven.
Rashi explains: If Yirmiyahu instructed them to record their transactions in a ledger and document the sales before witnesses, it means that their two-year occupancy (years ten and eleven) would not suffice to establish a presumption of ownership.  From here we see that (sans documentation), one needs three years of continuous occupancy to establish a presumption of ownership.

Why would Yirmiyahu tell the people to purchase property that they would not be able to enjoy for at least another seventy years?  If exile was clearly happening, didn’t it make more sense to sell off everything now and emigrate with liquid assets that they could use to purchase property abroad?  Upon their return to Israel, they or their children or grandchildren could repurchase the fields then!

Yirmiyahu was offering the people a powerful message of hope: Right now, all may seem bleak, but things will turn around.  Guaranteed.  But it’s not enough just to believe me.  Go out and purchase a field.  That tangible act will make your belief unshakeable.  Once you’ve invested your hard-earned cash, you’ve translated your faith into practice.  And there’s no turning back. Keep that document with you throughout the exile, show it to your children and grandchildren, and it will solidify your faith through the most challenging times.

If you really believe in something, you need to translate your faith into action!  Maybe you hope to be a doctor one day.  At the moment, you’re just beginning to apply for college.  It might seem like a long way away, but if you really believe, go out today and buy a stethoscope.  Hang it up on your bedroom door and it will serve as a constant reminder of your eventual destination!

Maybe you’ve been given a poor health assessment by the doctors.  They’ve told you that there’s 80% chance you won’t make it.  But you know that means there’s 20% chance that you will make it!  Put differently, one in five people beat the illness and go on to live productive, fabulous lives!  Don’t just believe that you will be one of the fortunate 20%, send someone out to buy you a brand new pair of running shoes.  Keep them right next to your bed.  You might not be able to use them today, but seeing them each day will remind you to maintain your faith that you are getting up from this setback in no time at all!

Maybe your child has dropped out of school or yeshiva.  You certainly haven’t given up on them.  Every day you turn your eyes Heavenward and wait faithfully for Hashem to set your child back on the right path.  It’s time to turn that faith into action.  Call the school and tell them you’d like to start making a monthly donation that will, please G-d, become the future tuition account for your child.  Pay in advance now – it will save you a lot of money in the future when your child is ready to get back on track!

The story is told of a drought that once took place in the area of Teveria (Tiberias).  It hadn’t rained for months and the crops were now suffering.  Food prices were out of control and drinking water was at a premium, let alone water to wash with. 
But then word gets out that Rabbi Moshe had called for a communal prayer service at the main synagogue.  “We will all pray together and I promise that the rain will come immediately!  As long as we have faith in Hashem, our united prayers will bring the rain without delay.  Everyone should gather tomorrow morning and we will bear witness to the miracles of Hakadosh Baruch Hu (G-d)!”
The next day, all the townsfolk appear at the shul, siddurim (prayerbooks) in hand.  Finally, Rabbi Moshe arrives.  He looks around and shakes his head despairingly.
Exiting the synagogue, he declares, “My friends, if you really believed that the rain would come immediately, where are your umbrellas, raincoats and galoshes?”

If you truly believe in the Almighty’s blessing, you need to translate your faith into tangible actions.  Hashem will turn your life around, but you must demonstrate your total commitment to the outcome.  May you accept His blessings into your life today! 

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