of man's earnings are decreed on Rosh Hashanah, except for
expenses regarding Shabbat and Yom Tov and expenses relating
to Jewish education (Beitzah 16a)." The more we spend
in the latter two areas, the more G-d will graciously grant
us. Though the above is hard to prove, it reflects the fundamental
notion that while we are required to work for our sustenance, ultimately it is only
through the blessings of G-d that our endeavors are met
with success. Hence one who cheats, cuts corners and does
not conduct monetary dealings with full integrity not only
cheats man but undermines G-d's plan for division of the
world's wealth. With this understanding, the Talmud's statement
that the first question that G-d will address to us after
120 years, nasata v'natata b'emunah, takes on new meaning.
N'asata v'natata bemunah, is normally translated as, were
your business dealings conducted honestly? While this is
undoubtedly a crucial facet of the question, it does not
do full justice to the term emunah. Emunah means faith,
specifically faith in G-d. What G-d is really asking us
is whether our business dealings reflect our belief and
trust in G-d? Do we have emunah, in the classical sense
of faith in G-d, or do our dealings show that though we
may meticulously observe the rituals of the Torah we really
don't believe that G-d is the master of the world? After
all, if you believed that G-d decrees how much wealth you
will be blessed with, why illegally interfere with His plan?
The Torah warns that "you must not keep in your pouch two different weights, one large and one small... you must have a full honest weight and a full honest measure. If you do so you will long endure on the land that G-d your Lord is giving you. For an abomination (to'evah) of G-d, your G-d are all that do these things" (Deuteronomy 25:13-16). Harsh words indeed for one who sells 15 ounces of meat, yet charges for a pound. Indeed Jewish law states the mere possession of dishonest weights is prohibited, because one who possesses will ultimately use.
In the Torah the mitzva of honest weights is followed by the mitzva of remembering the unspeakable evil perpetrated by Amalek against a defenseless Jewish nation as they were leaving Egypt -- a seemingly strange juxtaposition. Rashi, basing himself on the midrash, makes a startling comment: "If you lied regarding weights and measures then you had better start worrying about your enemies." In other words, the Amaleks of the world will attack us if we are dishonest in our monetary transactions. We know that G-d punishes mida k'neged midah, measure for measure. What then is the connection between the crime and the punishment?
The Torah tells us "remember what Amalek did to you on the way when you were leaving Egypt... he struck those of you who were hindmost...and he did not fear G-d" (25:17-18). The entire purpose of the exodus was to instill the fact that "I am Hashem and I shall take you out from under the burdens of Egypt... and you shall know that I am Hashem your G-d" (Exodus 6:6-7). So powerful was the exodus that "Peoples heard, they trembled... terror and dread falleth upon them" (Exodus 14:14-16). Yet Amalek, in contradistinction to every other nation, "did not fear G-d." To them, there is no providence and G-d's will can be manipulated and ignored. Thus Amalek is the perfect "punishment" for those who by their monetary malfeasance show that they too "do not fear G-d." "Due to the iniquity of dishonest weights Amalek comes." As we approach the Yamim Noraim, where the presence and dominion of G-d is the central theme of the day, let us make sure that we are doing our share to prevent the attacks of Amalek. Let us ensure that we will be able to respond in the affirmative when asked, "did you conduct your monetary affairs faithfully?" Shabbat Shalom!