22 Av 5780 / Wednesday, August 12, 2020 | Torah Reading: Re'eh
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The Divine Message of Meyer Lansky    

The Divine Message of Meyer Lansky

When the people who know the most about something let others - but not the ones they love - have it, then you know it is something that’s really bad...


How do we know if a sin is really bad for us? Are there any clues in history that show us just how important Torah prohibitions are? 


How about the story of a 1930s Jewish gangster?   


Meyer Lansky made a lot of money selling alcohol to people during American Prohibition throughout the 1920s. When alcohol became legal again in 1933, he needed a new job. He saw his opportunity by setting up quiet gambling houses throughout communities in America.  


He paid every family $35 a week to stay out of his casinos. He knew what gambling did to people and didn’t want community leaders making noise about how someone was destroying their peaceful lives. He himself never made a bet throughout his entire adult life. 


Apple CEO Tim Cook sold over 300 million iPhones but he won’t let his nephews have one. 


Is gambling good for us? Are smartphones? 


When the people who know the most about something let others have it, but won’t let the ones they love the most use it, then you know it is something thats really bad.  


The Ultimate Producer 

The daytime Kiddush prayer tells us the following:  

Between Me and the Children of Israel the Shabbat is a sign forever, for in six days did Hashem make the heaven and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.  


Every Shabbat we celebrate Hashem’s creation of the world. We reaffirm that as its Creator, He knows everything about the universe, and certainly more than anyone who ever lived in a piece of it.  


He created the earth, the heavens, plants, birds, fish, animals, and people. He created the soul. He created time. He is our Father. He knows what about His creation is good, and what isn’t.  


He tells us, “Don’t eat pork.” The Ultimate Producer of pigs tells us not to eat them. He doesn’t mind that the other 7.5 billion people on this earth are scarfing down pork chops, but He makes sure to protect us from things that He knows to be bad.   


What about Shabbat? 


We are the only nation on earth to be given such a special gift. We are the only nation on earth to celebrate it on the Seventh Day, like Hashem does. The Muslim sabbath is on the fifth day while the Christian sabbath is on the first day. Both Muslims and Christians watch television, drive cars, and conduct commerce on their Shabbat. In Ireland, next to every Church there is a pub.  


Hashem prohibits us, or protects us, from these actions on His Shabbat, the day specifically referred to in the Torah as Yom Shabbat 


It’s another example of the Ultimate Producer of His universe going out of His way to protect His children from things He knows are not good.  


Every “stringency” He gives us is not an “arbitrary ban” on Saturday morning cartoons and bacon omelets. It’s G-d knowing His universe and protecting those He loves the most from what’s not good inside it by giving us instructions on how to avoid it.  



* * * 

David Ben Horin lives in Israel with his wife and children. 




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