Wednesday, June 1, 2016

True Value

Continuing this thought...

Two people are drowning or come to the emergency room and you can save only one of them. One is a billionaire but doesn't exactly keep Shabbos while the other is a simple yet devout Jew - Moishele the Water Carrier [parnassa is slow in the water carrying business these days...]. Whom do you save? Moishele, of course. 

The Mishna [Horiyos 14] tells us that if one can save a man or a woman then a man comes first because [as the commentaries explain] he is obligated in more mitzvos. So too, a kohen precedes a levi and a levi takes precedence over a yisrael [but see Igros Moshe Choshen Mishpat 2/75, 7 and Minchas Shlomo 2/82, 2 that in our day and age we don't necessarily follow the ruling of this Mishna. It is also interesting to note that the Rambam and Shuulchan Aruch omit the part of the Mishna that teaches that a man comes before a woman - הלא דבר הוא! See Tzitz Eliezer 18/1 and Encyclopedia Hilchatit Refuit [6/623]]. 

We see from the Mishna that what determines a person's relative value is the level of his or her obligation in [and of course fulfillment of] mitzvos [see Rambam Hilchos Mamrim Perek Shlishi]. 

This is not to judge others. We will leave the judging up to the True Judge. But it does give us perspective as to the importance that we should assign to money, fame and clout when it conflicts with true Torah values such as Torah knowledge and Yiras Shomayim.   

When a Jew who doesn't keep Shabbos moves wine - according to many poskim one may not drink it because he has the status of a Goy. Five or even ten billion dollars and a lifetime of philanthropy don't justify one chilul Shabbos.