We are all familiar with the idea of the “Yissachar and Zevullun” partnership. This partnership is built on the principle that no one person can do everything, and therefore each person will specialize in a particular area in order to share a greater good. Those who are able to sit and learn are supported by those who are able to earn funds and then buy into the learning process, becoming an equal partner in this spiritual endeavor.
Rav Zalman Sorotzkin tells the story of the Beis Halevi when he visited a city to collect money for his yeshiva. His host – who was a great Talmud Chacham in his own right whom we shall call Reuven – upon hearing the reason that the Beis Halevi arrived in town, said “You stay here and learn, and I will go out to raise the funds for you.” After a period of time, Reuven returned to his home and announced “I have raised half the funds.” The Rav was pleased, but there were still more funds to be collected. Reuven left his home again, and after a few days later returned with all the funds. The Beis Halevi thanked Reuven and returned to his yeshiva in Volozhin. A few days later Reuven and his business partner “Shimon” came to the Beis Halevi requesting a din torah. Shimon claimed that he was a 50% partner in each and every business investment that he and his partner Reuven made – except for one. “When the Beis Halevi came to town, you took it upon yourself to give ALL the money to him from your private funds. I demand that I too should be an equal partner in that endeavor.”
The Beis Halevi upon hearing that Reuven had given him all of the money from his own pocket exclaimed “You gave me all the money from your own pocket!? If so, why did you keep me in town all that time. You should have given all the money to me at once and then I would have been on my way!” To this Reuven answered “It was not easy for me to give such a large sum of money, so I had to work on myself bit-by-bit in order to get the strength of character to give this amount. The first time I gave you money I had worked on myself to the point that I felt confident giving you half the money. When I returned, I was able to give you the entire amount.
There is a businessman in America, who after building up a multi-million-dollar company, was offered to sell it. He told the potential buyer that he always gave a certain percentage of the earnings of the company to charity and if he wanted to buy the company, he would have to do so as well or there is no sale. This person understood that his business ‘partner’ was the charity and therefore told the buyer that they were inseparable.
I would like to point out an idea to think about regarding this story. First, there are those who say “business is business” and “mitzvos are mitzvos”. The two areas are completely segregated one from the other. Are we the kind of Zevuluns who are looking for the whole deal, meaning – that our business includes all mitzvos that are money related?