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Ramifications of a Broken Kinyan : Reneging on an Agreement Part III
By: Rabbi Yosef Greenwald
The Offense of the Mi Shepara
The Baalei Mussar discuss a related point which is both timeless and actually, very timely. One who is mevatel the kinyan kesef, the loshon of Chazal is, “Mi shepara, m’anshei dor hamabul v’anshei dor haflaga, hu yifreh”
The Baalei Mussar point out that Chazal group together Mi Shepara with Anshei Dor Hamabul and Dor Haflaga. In terms of the aveiros themselves, it would seem that one who breaks a contract has no shaychus to the aveiros of the Dor Hamabul and Dor Haflaga.
Chazal describe the final aveirah of the Dor Hamabul. “Lo nechtam gzar dinam shel Dor Hamabul, ela al gezel.” Stealing is bein adam l’chaveiro.
Meanwhile, the Dor Haflaga were excellent in Bein Adam L’chaveiro. The reason why they weren’t completely destroyed, was because there was achdus beineihem. Their aveira was kfira that they wanted to fight against the Ribbono Shel Olam. This is an aveiro Bein Adam L’mokom.
These two doros are compared to the aveira of the Mi shepara, which is bein odom l’chaveiro, in that he broke his contract. Why do Chazal lump together these two doros in defining the klala of mi shepara including Dor Haflaga which is Bein Adam L’mokom?
I believe that the answer lies in understanding the phraseology of Chazal in a Gemara in Maseches Shabbos.
The Gemara says that when a person goes in front of the Heavenly Court l’achar meio v’esrim, he is asked four questions:
First, nasata v’nosossa bemuna? Were you honest in your business dealings?
Second, kavata itim l’Torah? Did you daily set aside set times for learning Torah?
Then, asakta b’pirya v’rivya? Were you busy getting married and bringing children into the world?
And finally, tzipisa lyeshua? Did you hope and look forward to the Final Redemption?
The Gemara in Maseches Sanhedrin 7A, says that techilas dino shel odom is b’dinei Torah. Tosafos ask a question, “What is the first test that the person is put to when he receives his din? Is it on learning Torah as stated in Sanhedrin , or is it on honesty in business as stated in Shabbos?”
In responding, the Maharsha says a very fundamental insight, namely, that a person who merits to be shivti b’veis Hashem, to spend his life b’koselei beis medrash, in the daled amos shel halacha, the first and foremost judgement on him, is how did he use his time for learning? The first tayne on him is t’chilas dino shel odom b’iskei Torah.
However, the Gemara in Shabbos is referring to a person whose tafkid in life is in the shuk hachaim, in the business world. His ikur nisayon is his level of integrity and trustworthiness. His first din is how he keeps his word, and his level of trustworthiness in dealings with his fellow man. For the businessman, kavata itim l’Torah is only the second part of his mishpat. The first part of his mishpat is nossossa v’nossossa b’emunah.
We see from here that Chazal define a person who is honest in business as nosossa v’nosossa b’emunah.
A person who is strong in his emunah and his bitachon, strengthens his relationship with Hakodosh Boruch Hu. The ikkur of a person’s relationship with Hakodosh Boruch Hu lies in his level of emunah and bitachon.
For a person who is b’ves Hashem, who spends his life b’kvius itim L’Torah, who spends his life b’daled amos shel halocha, his ikkur relationship with the Ribbono Shel Olam is defined in terms of the strength of his commitment to limud Hatorah. This includes his omek in limud haTorah, his not wasting time from Limud haTorah, his depth of insight of Limud Hatorah, his hiskashrus in divrei Torah, and his kabbolos ol Torah.
A person who goes out into the business world, the ikkur depth of his relationship with the Ribbono Shel Olam is defined in terms of the strength of his commitment to honesty, the depth of his integrity, in how much he honors his word. The ikkur definition of a businessman who has a relationship with Hashem is this understanding that every word is kodshei k’doshim, and he has to respect that word.
With this understanding, we can comprehend the similarity between the dor hamabul and the dor haflaga, as compared to the mi shepara. In each of these generations, the aveira was a break in the relationship with Hakadosh Boruch Hu. Whether it was the gezel of the dor hamabul or the tower of the dor haflaga, they both had the same goal, to be independent of Hakodosh Boruch Hu, to fight with the Ribbono Shel Olam, so to speak. This is the singular aveira of trying to destroy that kesher that they have with Hakodosh Boruch hu.
In comparing these doros to the mi shepara, Chazal define him as a person lacking in his connection with the Ribbono Shel Olam. He uses the world of asakim as a means towards his own end, instead of a means of developing a kesher with the Ribbono Shel Olam.
The Connection Between Economics and Emunah
R’ Elchonon, in the Kovetz Mamurim, wrote a maamar in the early 1930’s, trying to understand the root of the Great Depression which had overtaken the whole of western society. In the past, when there was an economic problem, it usually had a natural reason, such as a war or a plague. But during the 1930’s there seemed to be no natural reason for the whole world to be suffering from starvation and unemployment.
R’ Elchonon explained that the Great Depression was a middah kneged middah. When people do not develop their emunah, and the depth of their kesher with the Ribbono shel Olam, then middah kneged middah, there is a weakening of the economic situation.
The entire business world functions on developing trust between people. Most of business relies on relationships, and how much they are willing to trust and do business with each other. If we don’t work on developing a stronger commitment to the Ribbono Shel Olam, and living with a kesher to Hakodosh Boruch Hu, then there is a weakening in the economy.
R’ Elchonon explains that when people become m’chuzak because of tzaros, and they develop their kesher with the Ribbono Shel Olam, then the Ribbono shel Olam will strengthen the kesher that exists between people, which is the basis for economic prosperity.
May the Ribbono Shel Olam help us, and we should be mechazek, and be mischazek, that we should be omed on all nisyonos, and we should strengthen our kesher with the Ribono shel Olam, and the kesher between all Yidden should be strengthened, and we should be zoche to all the yeshuos.