Shabbat Aharei-Mot/Kedoshim 5773

I hope you were able to get all your accounting obligations in order for tax day this week. The question is: are we ready for the ultimate audit?

The Talmudic sage Rava taught that when a person dies and meets with the heavenly court, the interview begins not with questions about Shabbat observance, or our commitment to davening. The very first question we should expect to be “asked” is “Did you conduct your business affairs faithfully?” (Bavli Shabbat 31a) 

Parshat Kedoshim, the second portion we read this week, emphasizes the imperative that we behave in ways of holiness, in imitation of God. Commerce is certainly one realm in which this duty must be expressed. “You shall not defraud your fellow. You shall not commit robbery,” says the Torah (Leviticus 19:13). 

The premise behind the chapter on Commerce in The Observant Life (pp. 491-507), which we will discuss at our Lunch n Learn after service on Shabbat morning, is that God is just as concerned with our behavior in the marketplace as with our ritual expressions of religiosity. In the words of Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal, the chapter’s author: “Integrity is thus not only a savvy way to ensure repeat business, but should, and far more importantly, also be a manifestation of the yirat shamayim–the fear of heaven–that characterizes the God-fearing individuals involved.

So on Shabbat, we’ll explore the role of Jewish values and legal principles in discussions about free market competition, pricing, advertising and investing. We’ll see that a life in business truly can be a path to holiness and that one day, we’ll be able to answer the heavenly court with integrity.

Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi David Wise