19 Iyar 5779 / Friday, May 24, 2019 | Torah Reading: Bechukotai
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How Much are You Worth?    

How Much are You Worth?

Imagine that you're the Prime Minister, the President, your country's leading performing artist or a record-breaking professional athlete; how much would you sell yourself for?


Let's play an executive game: Suppose you are a super-successful star at the top of your profession. For the fun of it, imagine that you're the Prime Minister, the President, your country's leading performing artist, a record-breaking professional athlete or head of the World Bank. Your life is worth so much that you've decided to take out a full life-insurance policy on yourself, which takes into account all your assets and all your accrued and inherent worth. I'll play the part of the assessor, sent by the insurance company to assess your true value (which actually is far more than you can imagine, but play along in the meanwhile for the sake of the game). I'll ask you a few questions:

How much is your career worth?

“Are you kidding?” you respond. You've invested years of sweat, blood and tears in your quest to be the best. How do you possibly put a price tag on the mountains of effort that you invested to get to where you are today? I suggest that we insure you for ten-million dollars. You look at me like I'm insane. Your earning power for one year is more than that. You wouldn't sell your fame and fortune for 100 times that much. We're now up to a billion dollars, but you're not satisfied, for it's not enough...

How much are your children worth?

“Hey, c'mon, are you a fool?” you ask me. Your children are priceless. I then remind you the aggravation you periodically suffered from them, and suggest we insure you for a million dollars per child. You then ask me if all the assessors in my company are as miserly or demented as I am. I'm happy to write down a higher figure, because your company or country will be paying a fatter premium every month, but it has to be more or less realistic. You tell me that you wouldn't sell a single one of your children for 100-million dollars. Again, we're now up to a billion dollars per child, but you're not satisfied, for it's not enough.

How much is your name and reputation worth?

Here, we're really haggling. We assess name and reputation by asking you how much you are willing to be paid so that the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and Fox News write the worst things in the world about you. Your claws come out of their sheaths; this question really riles you. Your name is everything. I throw a figure for discussion and you tell me it's not near enough. You argue more than you did about your career worth and the value of your children. Losing your name would be losing everything. We compromise on ten billion dollars.
So, with career, children, spouse, name and reputation, and then we add your health and other key assets in your life, we agree to insure you for $20 billion. We also agree that this is not your full worth...
As Prime Minister, the President, your country's leading performing artist, a record-breaking professional athlete or head of the World Bank, we've established that your life and assets are worth billions.
In that case, I want to ask you a simple question:
If you're worth so very much, why are you willing to sacrifice everything - your career, your achievements, your family and children, your good name and reputation, and more - for a proverbial fifteen-minute frolic in the hay (or other type bedding)?
The modern world scoffs at Rebbe Nachman when he equates sexual lust with insanity. For the sake of propriety, I don't want to mention the long list of heads of state, diplomats, world leaders, and performing icons who garbaged their entire lives for one short scandalous fling. If that is not insanity, what is?
Are you beginning to understand how deeply the evil inclination is capable of sinking its claws into a person's soul?
Which brings me to another $64,000 question:
Mister President or Prime Minister: How can you possibly govern a nation when you can't even govern your own crude bodily urges?
Personal holiness is not something for pious abstinents on mountaintop retreats. It's something for all of us, and a matter of basic sanity.
Think twice - don't throw your multi-billion-dollar life away for a flesh-pot of porridge.
* * *
We invite you to visit Rabbi Lazer Brody’s award-winning daily web journal Lazer Beams.

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