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Friday, Iyar 23, 5784 / May 31, 2024 (38th day of the Omer)


With this week’s Parsha, Bechukotei, we conclude the Third Book of the Torah. This Shabbat we bless the New Hebrew month, Sivan, the month in which we celebrate the holiday of Shavuot - the holiday when we received the Torah at Mount Sinai.


Last week we recited the fourth chapter of Pirkei Avot. One of the lessons our sages teach us there is by the Talmudic sage Ben Zoma: “Who is wise? Who learns from everyone. Who is strong? Who subdues his evil inclination. Who is rich? Who is happy with his lot. Who is honorable? Who honors others.”


Who is rich? He, who is happy with his lot.”A poor man found a wallet with 1,000 rubles. The following day he heard that Yossel the banker lost his wallet with 1000 rubles and promised a hefty reward of fifty rubles to the one who returns it. He quickly went to the banker’s house, knocked on the door and when Yossel opened the door he handed him his wallet with the 1000 rubles.


Yossel took the wallet, counted the money, and then said, “I see you already took your reward!  There was one thousand and fifty rubles in the wallet and there is only 1000 there now.


“But that’s not true,” protested the poor man.  There were only 1000 rubles there.  You owe me the reward.  The two men argued and, in the end, decided to go to the rabbi to settle the case.


The poor man claimed that there was 1000 rubles in the wallet and he was owed the 50 rubles reward for returning the wallet.  But Yossel, the banker, said that there were 1050 rubles in the wallet and that he didn’t owe him anything.  “Rabbi, I trust you believe me,” the rich man added.


“Sure, I believe you,” replied the rabbi.  Now the rich man was full of smiles and the poor man was devastated. But then the rabbi took the wallet and gave it to the poor man.  “It’s yours. You keep it!”


“What are you doing,” protested the rich man angrily.  “You don’t believe me, rabbi?”


“Sure, I believe you that you had 1050 rubles in your wallet. However, I have to believe that the poor man who returned the wallet, is also an honest person. If he was a thief he would have taken all the money for himself.  Now that I know that you are both honest people, I have to believe that the wallet in question is not the one you lost. Thus, until the rightful owner is found, the wallet stays with him. You will just have to wait until someone who finds a wallet with 1050 rubles comes forward…”


How true are the words of our sages, “Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot.”  It is the key to riches and the key to true happiness. When we become too greedy, we sometimes outsmart ourselves and lose even what rightfully belongs to us. May we be blessed with true happiness. Amen.




Montreal candle lighting time: 8:17 / Shabbat ends: 9:33