THE BITACHON OF INFLATION
Bitachon Bytes, Chayei Sara
By Rabbi Zalman Goldberg
In his effort to find a burial place for Sarah, Avraham wound up paying a very high price for the M’aras HaMachpella. He didn’t have many choices, and Sarah needed k’vura right away, so Avraham bought it. In a similar scenario, when Yaakov Avinu was on the way back from Lavan’s house1, returning to his father after more than three decades of absence, he sojourned in Sh’chem for a while. The property that he bought for his family to use while in Sh’chem also cost him a pretty penny.
When Moshe Rabbeinu complained to Hashem2 about the worsening of Galus Mitzrayim, Hashem responded that the Avos also had difficulties but they did not complain. Even to think, “Why is Hashem doing this?’’ they did not do. Hashem told Moshe Rabbeinu that when Avraham Avinu had to pay an exorbitant fee for a makom k’vura, he didn’t complain, and neither did Yaakov Avinu when real estate in Sh’chem skyrocketed.
There is a general Bitachon message here: the cost of any item, no matter how mundane, is ordained and determined by Hashem. If it’s absolutely a necessity, purchase it. But to complain or grumble due to the unexpected price is contrary to true Bitachon in Hashem. The same goes for a mitzvah and even a hiddur mitzvah. If an occasion arises that the mitzvah is overpriced, to complain is for sure inappropriate.
Reb Meir Rephoels was once traveling3 on his wagon and one of his tzitzis strings ripped, possibly rendering it pasul. He immediately instructed the wagon driver to stop the wagon until he would procure new tzitzis strings. Suddenly, in the distance he saw a peddler walking with a sack full of goods on his back. Yelling uncharacteristically at the top of his lungs to catch the peddler’s attention, he succeeded and when the peddler reached him, Reb Meir asked him if there were tzitzis strings among his wares.
“I do have,” replied the peddler, “but I am rushing to get to the next town before sundown so I don’t have time to search for a single string.”
“Alright,” said Reb Meir, “I will purchase an entire package of strings to make it more worth your while.”
“But I still have to rummage through the whole pack to find the tzitzis and that will take too much time.”
“In that case, I will buy all of your merchandise – the entire pack.”
Reb Meir bought all of the peddler’s wares for a considerable sum. He extracted one string of tzitzis from the pack, repaired his tzitzis, and continued on his way. A while later, Reb Meir found himself in the presence of his Rebbe, the Alter Rebbe. Upon his entrance, the Alter Rebbe pulled out an envelope with money – the same amount of money Reb Meir had spent on the peddler’s sack to obtain one tzitzis string – and handed it to Reb Meir, saying, “Eliyahu HaNavi came to test you, to see if you were ready to spend a lot of money in order to do the mitzvah properly.”
The lesson for us is that Hashem is in charge; if something necessary seems expensive, we shouldn’t worry or be concerned; rather we should rely on Hashem’s decision that the price is correct. Especially when it comes to mitzvos, we should be prepared to go the extra dollar to fulfill the mitzvah properly. That shows a strong bond with Hashem, to the extent that His Mitzvos are more important than my money.
Rabbi Zalman Goldberg is a well sought after speaker and lecturer on Chassidic thought. His writings and recordings on the topic of Bitachon can be accessed at http://www.gotbitachon.com.
1) פרשת וישלח פרק ל”ג סוק י”ח-י”ט.
2) סוף פרשת שמות.
3) אוצר סיפורי חב”ד עמ’ ט”ו.