Monday, May 5, 2014

Value beyond Money

Parshat BeHar
Vayikra 25:1 – 26:2
10 Iyar 5774 / May 9-10, 2014

In Parshat Behar we are not only told to rest on the seventh day of the week, but according to this week’s Torah Portion, Behar, we have to let the land rest every seven years. We also learn about a 50 year cycle where all bets are off and all contracts cancelled. Read on for some more thoughts on this week's Torah portion.

Many blessings!

Value beyond Money
by Zvi Bellin, MHHQ

In this week's Torah portion we dive deeper into the concept of Shabbat. The Torah commands that every seventh year will be a year of rest for the land. This means that farmers take a whole year where they do not actively work their land, and basically, everything that grows wild is for the use of whoever might pass by. The bounty of the land cannot be collected and sold for monetary gains, rather the produce is considered above monetary value. All who are hungry and are in need of food, can come and eat. This seventh year is called the Shmita Year, and you can learn more about it and its relevance to life today at the following site:

What I am thinking about is how awesome it is to translate the Shmita concept to the world of work today and the power of volunteering. Imagine you were asked to spend a full year at your current job (whether you are in a job, or spending time preparing for one in school) not getting paid, but rather volunteering. People would still benefit from the fruits of your labor, though you would not receive a paycheck. In this little exercise, let's say you were able to save up for your basic needs from the year before. My question is, what would motivate you to do your current job if it was not for the paycheck (or for the expected paycheck if you are in school/preparation phase?) Would passion drive you? A sense of self-worth? Community? Fun? Would you find nothing rewarding beyond a paycheck, and take off?

The concept of Shmita reminds me that there is no objective monetary value on the fruits of my labor. It pushes me to consider what I really value about my work in the world, and if that is fullfilling beyond a way to make money. Making money is great, though it is not enough to buy sustaining happiness. My grandmother always says, "Money isn't everything, but it's 50% of everything." This week, I invite you to contemplate that other 50% in what you do.


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