I am not Jewish. I was raised in the Baptist Church until I reached the age of majority. At which time I chose my own religion. My mother was proud. Not because I chose hers, but because I chose at all.
The above is the segway into the story I posted below. Truth is truth no matter from whose mouth or religion it comes. I learned early that when you disregard others simply because of what color they are or what religion they practice you diminish yourself. Well, not so much diminish as limit yourself. As Americans we have always been proud of our freedom. I guess freedom can be equated with limits, don't you think? And limiting truth - or the hearing thereof - puts a person or a people in the position of ignorance. And encouraging ignorance is the milk and honey of the dictator.
I will finish this line of thinking after the inserted letter. Your Money or Your Life by Rabbi Daniel Lapin
In late 2007, eighty-three year-old Raymond Bunte confronted two young thugs helping themselves to his neighbor, Dolores Hendershot's valuables, out of her suburban San Antonio home. Clutching his shotgun, he blocked their exit and ordered the men to lie down on the ground. They ignored the old-timer and threatened him. He pulled the trigger. One criminal is dead; the other is behind bars.
A few months earlier, just south of Little Rock, 93 year-old Willie Hill woke to find a hoodlum stuffing his pockets with Willie’s money, his pocket knife and his hearing aid. 24 year-old Douglas Williams was mighty surprised when Willie reached for his revolver and shot the home invader in the throat.
Finally, in May of that same year, sixty year-old Shirley Reed was about to get into her car outside her apartment in Dallas. 19-year-old Charles Poursoltani suddenly materialized beside her, pointed a gun at her and demanded the keys to her car. Grandma Shirley declined to comply and instead she wrenched the gun out of her assailant’s hand and shot him. These true stories help us ask how the good Lord wants us to relate to our possessions. Of course we are morally obliged to defend our lives, even with deadly force, but how far should we go to defend our property? Ancient Jewish wisdom probes the protection of possessions in this verse: If the thief be discovered breaking in and he is struck and dies, there is no blood guilt. (Exodus 22:1)
Ancient Jewish wisdom explores the nuances of this verse over many pages, but one concept drawn from the verse is that you are not morally obliged to let someone escape with your property. You originally obtained your possessions honestly. It follows that you used up a certain number of your hours on this earth working to earn enough to pay for that car or that television. Now if the thief gets away with your property, you will have to repeat that working time to replace the stolen object. In other words, the thief has deprived you of something far more important than a car or a television. He has robbed you of time. Since time is the one irreplaceable commodity, he has committed a grievous crime—he has deprived you of some of the time you have left on God’s earth.
Here’s a question: what is the law if you murder someone so ill that he was guaranteed to die the next day? Can you defend yourself in court by claiming that since you only deprived this elderly man of one day of his life your crime was really insignificant? What if you shot dead, as he plummets past your window on the twentieth floor of the Empire State Building, a man who had committed suicide by jumping off the roof three seconds earlier? Though he was doomed to die seconds after you shot him, you still committed murder. In other words, stealing even a tiny bit of time from someone’s life is terribly serious. Someone who steals your possessions is also stealing time from your life.
I tell you this not to encourage you to shoot a burglar but because the Bible enhances our lives by helping adjust our attitudes until they are more congruent with God’s blueprint of reality. We see a similar message in the following verses:
(Jacob) arose that night, took his two wives, his two handmaidens, and his eleven sons, and crossed the ford of Jabok. He took them and crossed them over the brook along with his possessions. And Jacob was left alone and a man wrestled with him until sunrise. (Genesis 32:23-25)
Ancient Jewish wisdom asks what was Jacob doing alone? The surprising answer is that he was retrieving some small, inexpensive containers of oil. These verses contain important lessons for us. If we recognize the true cost of each object we purchase, we will be less likely to impulsively buy items that will then sit unused or unappreciated. We are also morally obliged to care for our possessions and avoid losing them because they took time from our lives to acquire.
We should cherish our property. In so doing we can honor God’s great gift to us—the days and hours of our lives.
Published at YouNeedARabbi.Com I was taught a lesson when I was 30. That lesson was this - for the great majority of working people our life and our money are inseparable and connected. Why? Because, as Rabbi Lipin pointed out regarding possessions, we spent life to acquire it. Money is simply a possession too. A piece of our existence that we can never ever get back. 'Life Force' if you will. Kinda changes the way you look at a dollar bill? It did me.
That brings me to the point. What do you want your life spent on. If the concept of life (irretrievable moments in time that you choose to expend and can never get back) does equate with this possession (money) then it follows that any person or government who takes this away without your consent is not depriving you of wealth - but of 'life force' itself. The days and hours (called work) that can never be replaced.
Many lives were expended to create the United States. Many fortunes (pieces of lives) have kept her alive and viable. When life is expended earning something then that something is precious, whether we realize it or not.
Religion aside, I had never thought of this concept until explained by Rabbi Lipin. I would have never considered such a sacred duty. Until now. No wonder charity has been so oft referred to as,"giving of oneself."