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Ask the Rabbi - 310

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Ask the Rabbi

May 19, 2001 / 26 Iyar 5761; Issue #310

New Partner Wanted


This week, "Ask the Rabbi" presents an essay by Rabbi Berel Wein:

Rabbi Haim Sabato of the yeshiva in Ma’aleh Adumim is an author of note and recognition. In fact, he is the recipient of a prestigious award from his Israeli literary judges for his beautifully written book, Emet Mi’eretz Titzmah. In that book, he relates a story about two partners in the Jewish community in Aleppo, Syria, a century ago. It seems that one of them had started a business of dealing in antiques and other discarded items. After a few years in business, it became abundantly clear to him that he would never be able to make a go of the business on his own. The business required capital investment and cash, and he did not have the money to make a success of it.

He thereupon decided to take in a partner to help him in the business. He took on a trusted and dear friend and they worked diligently together to help the business expand so that they would be able to feed their families from the profits of the endeavor.

But, alas, the new partner also did not have money or capital means and the business soon tottered on the brink of bankruptcy. So the two partners decided that their only salvation was to bring into the business a third partner, one who had money to invest in the business and provide it with sufficient capitalization to allow it to grow and prosper. One of the partners was delegated to search for such a new partner, while the other remained to continue running the business.

Before embarking on the search for the partner who would save the business, the man repaired to the synagogue to ask for Divine aid in finding this new partner. In the midst of his prayers, he was struck by a startling thought. He said to the Lord: "Why should I search for another partner, when you, O G-d, are the perfect partner for us? You will be our third partner, and Your share of the profits will be distributed for the support of the worthy Torah scholars and institutions of Aleppo."

Delighted with his deal, he rushed back to his partner to tell him the great news.

"By your facial expression I see that you found us a new partner," his partner said. "But tell me, is this partner reliable?" "He is most reliable and has never failed anyone as of yet," was the excited answer. "Does he have money for our business?" asked the suspicious partner. "Money! He has unlimited funds and can finance any endeavor," came the response. "Who is he?" asked the partner. "I cannot describe the new partner to you, nor can I give you his name. His only request is that the one-third share of the profits that is rightfully due him be distributed to the Torah scholars and institutions of Aleppo," was his answer.

The partner mulled the matter over and then agreed to the new partner, unknown though he was. Naturally, the business took a great good turn of fortune and the two partners became wealthy and kept their end of the bargain, always supporting the scholars and institutions of Torah in Aleppo.

That is Sabato’s story, though he tells it much more beautifully than I have been able to.

The state of Israel has always had a partner, the Jewish people in the Diaspora. There was a long period of time when the State was convinced that it could make it on its own. The Diaspora Jew was negated and felt to be unnecessary. The future was to be Israeli and no longer Jewish. However, it soon became apparent that the State of Israel was in need of a partner. It was undercapitalized in people, wealth and arms to defend itself. So it took in a partner after all, the Jewish people of the Diaspora. The new partner supplied millions of immigrants to the Land of Israel as well as substantial capital and financing.

The state grew and prospered, but it was, nevertheless, always tottering on the verge of bankruptcy and war anyway. It tried to solve all of its problems by itself. It allowed many of its citizens to neglect and denigrate Jewish tradition, it aped the worst of the Western world and corrupted its time-hallowed values of decency in speech, dress and social behavior. It abandoned its founding idealism and deluded itself into wishful thinking and sloganeering, while its enemies continued to press for its isolation and eventual destruction.

And thus it found itself in great danger after 53 years of existence.

The State of Israel requires a new partner to be added to the enterprise. A partner who brings with him idealism, a sense of sacrifice, a knowledge of Jewish history and tradition, a respect for the Torah and the scholars of Israel, an appreciation of the magnificence of the enterprise that could be the State of Israel. Such a partner should be allowed to enter our schools and textbooks, our marketplaces and homes. Such a partner will bring us spirit, confidence, vision and strength.

I am certain that such a partnership will be most beneficial to all concerned.

Rabbi Berel Wein is a world renowned author and lecturer, whose works include "Herald of Destiny," "Triumph of Survival," and others. He currently lectures in Yeshivat Ohr Somayach.

Written by various Rabbis at Ohr Somayach Institutions / Tanenbaum College, Jerusalem, Israel.
General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
Production Design: Michael Treblow
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