“Command Aharon and his sons, saying…” (Vayikra 6:2)

Rashi explains that the word “command” always denotes an urging to promptly and meticulously fulfill a particular order. Rabi Shimon teaches that the pasuk needs to use the word “command” here as there was monetary loss involved.

It’s interesting to note that even while Aharon and his sons were busy with the holy Avodah, they needed to be warned to perform their holy tasks with meticulous eagerness and not focus on the monetary aspect [as they received measurements of soles while training for the Mishkan].

When Rabi Shimon bar Yochai saw people busy working in the field, he reacted sharply. “You leave the life of eternity and busy yourself with the life of the hour?”

Rabi Shimon’s intention was to show that although a person may need to provide for his physical sustenance, his approach to such work is critical. Are his physical efforts done with alacrity and his spiritual pursuits marked by laziness? This is a sign that the work of this world is more important in his eyes. The situation should be the opposite. The work of “the hour” — the temporary physical work — should be done only to fulfill his obligation and the work of eternity should be done with happiness and enthusiasm. (Saba MiKelm, Sefer Chochmah U’Mussar)


ome kids are born businessmen. They come into this world dreaming about dollars and cents, and by the time they speak their first word they know the value of a good deal.

My Avi’s a “handler,” as his friends call him.

He can bargain with the best and always has his eye out for the bottom buck.

When he was four, I commented to him, “Avi, you have the best smile in the world. You know people pay millions of dollars for dimples like yours?”

He didn’t miss a beat. “How can I sell them?”

At the tender age of seven he was running several businesses, wheeling and dealing with apricot pits, stickers, and bottle caps. I’m hoping I’ll be able to retire soon.

Chazal teach us that the nature of a person is that his soul is always pulled after stealing and immorality. Anyone is liable to fall in the net of the yetzer hara in immorality. He must heed the voice of the Rambam cautioning that “he should remove his thoughts from them.”

The obligation to be careful with money is even greater than immorality because a person cannot remove his thoughts from money. Therefore, he must be constantly pay attention, or even the greatest among Yisrael may stumble.

One day Avi approached me with the age-old childhood question: “Mommy, are we rich?”

“Of course! We have everything we need! Who is rich? He who is happy!” I didn’t attend Bais Yaakov for nothing.

“No, Ma!” he wasn’t buying it. “How much do we have in the bank?”

“You know, Avi, money isn’t everything.”

“But it’s not nothing either!”

I tried again. “Listen, Hashem gave you a great brain that enjoys processing percentages and profits. The question is, how are you going to use that talent in a life of Torah?”

“What’s the big deal?” he muttered. “I ask you a simple question about the balance of your bank account and you start to give me a derashah on Olam Haba!”

Rashbi’s words about “eternal life” are advice to every person who wants to be stronger than the desire of money. A person should approach his work in this world as he would a bad business venture he wants to quit — it’s something that has to be performed grudgingly.

But eternal life should be approached with happiness and meticulousness. Aharon and his sons were commanded to approach avodas Hashem with alacrity and great desire. They should be immersed in spiritual matters so that their thoughts and minds aren’t pulled after monetary issues.

When Avi turned bar mitvah, the weeks of prep leading up to the event were fraught with major decisions. Avi agonized over the menu, the color of his tie, and how much one should invest into a first hat. I walked into the hall feeling cynical and mercenary. Then Avi got up to say his speech and made a siyum. As he said the hadran I couldn’t hold back my tears. When he finished I tried to compose myself as he walked over to me.

“Avi, you gave me so much nachas!”

“I know.” He hugged me tightly. “It felt so good!” There were tears in his eyes, too.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 585)