Site Meter Yehudi Yerushalmi: Spiritual problems with receiving American aid

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Spiritual problems with receiving American aid

Rabbi Pinchas Winston
At night, G-d came to Lavan the Syrian in a dream. He told him, "Be careful and don't speak to Ya'akov either for good or evil." (Bereishis 31:24)
The Talmud makes an interesting statement, based upon this posuk:
Rebi Yochanan said in the name of Rebi Shimon bar Yochai: Any good from an evil person is evil for the righteous, as it says, "Be careful in case you speak to Ya'akov either good or evil." Bad is understandable, but why not good? Thus we learn that the good of the evil is evil for the righteous. (Yevamos 103a)
In other words, even the favors of evil people are far from that. Now, the Talmud does not mean that somehow and at sometime in the future the evil person will double-cross the righteous one and harm him in the end. It means that even if a righteous person receives and secures benefit from an evil person, it is still no benefit.
It's not that the money, or the gift, or whatever the evil person did for the righteous person has no objective value; it does. The problem lies not with that which was given, but with the giving itself. It is as if that which was received was stolen property to begin with ( even if it wasn't ( which makes using it honestly impossible.
This is because the process of giving and taking is not as finite as people tend to think, or treat it. On the contrary, what attracts us to possessions and even inspires us to surrender time and money for them is the potential for relationship with them, on whatever level is suitable for the "attainment" in question. Symbolism aside, we surrender part of ourselves when we sell something we previously owned, and the new buyer inherits it on some level.
This is why when a man marries a woman he gives a certain amount of value, usually in the form of a ring. On one level, an acquisition is being made, but on a deeper, far more esoteric level, they are both giving of themselves to each other, and opening a spiritual conduit between the two of them. They have the rest of their marriage to work on increasing the potential flow through that channel.
This is why the good of evil people is evil for good people. The moment you give something, anything, you create a relationship between giver and receiver. To what extent that relationship can go depends upon what was given and how, and though this may not be felt on an emotional level, it is certainly true in the spiritual realm, to such an extent that the spiritual impurities of the giver can go over to the recipient of an evil person's gift.
And evil doesn't always mean that a person is doing the worst things imaginable. Evil from a Torah perspective is also a lack of good, so that even misguided people can be doing evil, though somewhat unwittingly. No question that intention plays a major role in the evaluation of good and evil, but still, evil acts even with the best of intentions carry an aspect of that evil.
Thus, we see that even though Dovid HaMelech only killed with the permission of Torah, still the "blood on his hands" prevented him from being the builder of the First Temple. That honor fell to his son, Shlomo HaMelech, who didn't have to fight the wars that his father did. And, even though Ya'akov stole the blessings from Eisav for the sake of Heaven, it was still called a "ma'aseh geneivah" ( an act of stealing ) for which we have had to pay on some level. But that is all a function of Hashgochah Pratis ( Divine Providence. )
So, in the end it is not a simple case of simply buying something, paying for it, and checking out. There is room to be careful, not just about what you buy, but where and how you buy something. For, it might come with a spiritual dividend, and one that you might have preferred to do without.

No comments: