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March 05, 2009 - Image 29

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2009-03-05

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Come for the Lifestyle.


Bad Money
After Good

Shabbat Zachor, Parshat Tetzaveh;
Exodus 27:20-30; Deuteronomy
25:17-19; I Samuel 15:2-34.


his past week, my accountant from our parshah is not only that is it
prepared my tax forms for
not justified, it actually tarnishes and
diminishes the good deed. It was only
filing. Each year, I find this
because Moshe was honest that the
process to be very challenging. With
ongoing, and often, growing expenses, Shechinah, God's presence, rested on
the Mishkan. Had it been
who doesn't have a strong
temptation to misrepresent
otherwise, no matter the
intention or rationalization,
or underreport earnings?
God would never have con-
Given the current financial
sidered the Mishkan a holy
crises, this year, the urge is
even more pronounced.
At the beginning of
The Talmud tells us that
Parshat Tetzaveh, Moshe
when we depart from this
was informed about the oil
world, we will be judged in
Heaven and asked several
to be used for kindling the
critical questions. Did you
menorah in the Tabernacle.
Rabbi Yechiel
. . . they shall take for you
aside time to study the
pure, pressed olive oil for
Did you anticipate
Special to the
illumination ..."
your part for the
Jewish News
Commenting on this
ultimate redemption? Did
verse, Rabbi Chaim Ben
you attempt to have chil-
Moshe Ibn Attar, the famed Ohr
dren and create the next generation
Hachaim (18th century Morocco) cites of our people? Prior to these ques-
the Talmud, which records a fascinat-
tions, however, we will be asked the
ing tradition. Apparently, there were
following. Were you honest with your
a number of unscrupulous individu-
finances and conduct your business
als who claimed that God's presence
transactions faithfully?
would never dwell in the Mishkan, the
The Kesav Sofer, Rabbi Shmuel
Tabernacle. They charged that Moshe
Binyamin Sofer (19th century
had pocketed some of the gold and
Hungary) explains that the first ques-
silver that had been donated for the
tion focuses on financial integrity in
construction. Certainly, if their claim
order to ascertain that the religious
were true, God would never allow His
deeds that we preformed in life were
Glory to enter such an edifice that had without moral blemish. If we attained
been built under Moshe's guidance.
a lulav, a shofar or celebrated a holi-
In order to put an end to these
day such as the upcoming festival of
false allegations, God now told Moshe
Purim with tainted funds, then, writes
about the oil used for the candelabra.
Rabbi Sofer, those deeds are rejected
According to tradition, miraculously,
by God. Although we had rationalized
the left candle never extinguished. Its
our actions for noble purposes, in our
continuous burning indicated God's
final judgment they will be used to
constant presence. The miraculous
our detriment.
oil, says Rabbi Attar, affirmed that the
No one enjoys paying taxes. We
Tabernacle was built with complete
would all rather use our own discretion
integrity and honesty. Therefore,
when spending hard-earned wages.
the verse says, "take for you," for you
Our Torah and our tradition, however,
Moshe, for your benefit.
mandate honesty and legal compliance.
Sometimes, we may attempt to
To intentionally circumvent our finan-
justify cutting corners with taxes
cial obligations, no matter the lofty
because of religious needs. Trips to
intent, is a violation of American law
Israel, synagogue memberships, day
and basic Jewish values. LI
school tuition, increased charitable
Yechiel Morris is rabbi at Young Israel
donations and holiday purchases are
just a few examples. But what emerges of Southfield.

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