The Importance of Having Skin in the Game

It’s June 1950, a jam-packed synagogue in Israel on a Shabbos morning. There was a special event, unlike any other event this community had ever experienced. A sweet young orphaned boy, named Yisrael who had survived the holocaust, was becoming Bar Mitzvah today.
He spent many months rehearsing the Torah reading. He had gone over it time and time again until he had the tones and the pitch just the way his teacher had taught him.
It was just about time for him to start, and along comes Moishe — the regular Baal Koreh (Torah reader). Moishe has his Talis on and heads to the Bima, as he does each week. The gabbai stops Moishe and says, “There’s a Bar Mitzvah this week… weren’t you informed? You are not reading Yisrael is reading today!”.

Moishe, an elderly man, starts fuming!

“Years I read the Torah here. I spent all week preparing. No one told me about the Bar Mitzvah! I never take any money for my services, I demand to read the Torah,” says Moishe. 

The people in the synagogue were all curious about what was the commotion going on up by the Torah. Suddenly, young Yisrael looks up at Moishe and hands him the Tallis.

Yisrael says, “Moishe I am young, and yes, I also prepared the Torah reading. However, because of my youth and with G-ds help, I will have many more years to read from the Torah. Here, take the tallis and you read today and descended from the Bima.”

Little Yisrael turned out to be correct about his presumptions. He grew up to read the Torah many times and speak the words of the Torah in front of thousands of people worldwide. He grew up to become the Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau.

What we can learn:

These past ten days, Jews throughout the world sacrificed their comforts to help their Ukrainian Jewish Brethren. Our community comes together for emergency flight missions and many other evacuation and rescue missions.

Jews sacrifice their comforts to make room for the evacuees that are now homeless. Millions of dollars in donations worldwide help to reinforce the support to refugees — to know that they are not alone in their struggles. That as one nation we do not turn a blind eye to our brothers in need.

As Natan Sharansky said so eloquently last week, “when I was growing up in Russia, Jews did whatever we could to remove the word Jew from our official documents, now the nations are doing whatever they can to get the word Jew put on to their documents to get some of the world support that we are providing”.

This week’s Parsha talks about the sacrifices given in the temple. Do we really think that Hashem needs our animals? The answer is that the only way for us to reach our potential and to build a healthy relationship with our inner core – is through sacrifice.

On college campuses, they have these fraternities, and the only way to get into the fraternity is to take some sort of risk – to show your dedication to the fraternity.

In the business world, you can only raise money from other investors if you have what is called “skin in the game”. This means that unless you are putting in some of your own hard-earned money into this investment – don’t ask me for mine.

Sacrifice proves the authenticity of a trusting loving relationship like nothing else. Go ask two army veterans who risked their lives for each other in the war, if they have any closer friends in the world.

So Hashem says to the Jewish people: I gave you plenty of abundance in the world because I want to be close to you. If you want to be close with me sacrifice something close to you for me.

Have a wonderful Shabbos!

Yitzchak Friedman

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