Biblical Payment
By Moshe Katz
Israeli Krav International

August 6, 2017, Israel

There are many people today who regard the "book of books", the Bible, to be an old, out of date, irrelevant book filled with superstition and nonsense. In particular the youth today resent the lack of political/sexual correctness regarding the various "new" identities that are emerging. On a side note people would be surprised to note that all these issues are actually dealt with in the Talmud, a book compiled about 2,000 years ago. As Solomon the Wise said, There is nothing new under the sun.

Now, think what you may, as is your right, but the Bible deals with financial transactions in a way that shows the greatest understanding towards mankind, the rights of the workers and a special sensitivity to the hard working poor.

Lets' take a look at an old book,

"לֹא תַעֲשֹׁק שָׂכִיר עָנִי וְאֶבְיוֹן מֵאַחֶיךָ אוֹ מִגֵּרְךָ אֲשֶׁר בְּאַרְצְךָ בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ. בְּיוֹמוֹ תִתֵּן שְׂכָרוֹ וְלֹא תָבוֹא עָלָיו הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ כִּי עָנִי הוּא וְאֵלָיו הוּא נֹשֵׂא אֶת נַפְשׁוֹ וְלֹא יִקְרָא עָלֶיךָ אֶל ה' וְהָיָה בְךָ חֵטְא." (ספר דברים, פרק כ"ד)

"Thou shalt not oppress a hires servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in they land within thy gates. At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and sets his heart upon it; lest he cry out against thee to the Lord, and it be sin in thee." (Deuteronomy 24, 14-15)

  לֹא תַעֲשֹׁק אֶת רֵעֲךָ וְלֹא תִגְזֹל לֹא תָלִין פְּעֻלַּת שָׂכִיר אִתְּךָ עַד בֹּקֶר." (ספר ויקרא,  פרק י"ט, פסוק י"ג)

"Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning." Leviticus 19, 13)

The Bible makes a habit of not repeating itself but on this rare occasion it does, yes it is that important. The rabbis over the centuries have commented on these passages a great deal and included in this commandment the prohibition of delaying even for one night any amount owed. The great scholar, the Rambam, Maimonides, Moshe son of Maimon, 12th century, wrote, "Anyone who delays a man's payment it is as if he has taken his life".

That is pretty extreme, and totally true.

Have you ever seen someone who is waiting to be paid? Have you seen the hope, the anxiety? It is as if life itself is put on hold. The one who owes the money is holding the other person hostage, and stealing his time.  Yes, all those days spent in anxious anticipation of being paid are the guilt of the one who owes the money and is late. This person has literally stolen life from the one who is owed the money. There is no excuse.

If one truly is in a difficult position they must update the one who is owed and make every effort to pay the money as soon as possible. This means you do not go out for dinner, this means you do not go scuba diving.

Not let me teach you something; Let's say that scuba diving trip is a gift and did not actually cost you a penny (as one of my former students told me), the rabbis would still not allow it, why?

Because it smacks of disrespect. It "looks bad".

The Talmud teaches that those that made the incense for the temple - no bride ever left their house wearing perfume lest people say 'She is using the incense of the temple'.

This is called being sensitive.

The Talmud teachers that those who made the loaves of bread for the Temple service never eat fresh bread at home, lest people say they are eating the bread of the temple.

This is called being sensitive.

As a friend of mine in South Africa said, "You gaining weight when you owe me money is simply disrespectful".

When my dear father passed away many came to pay their respects; the mayor, the chief rabbi, the barber, the waitresses at his favorite coffee shop, the auto mechanics, and plumbers and electricians who worked in my parents home.

They all said the same thing: We never left this house without cash in our hands. Not promises to be paid later, not awkward silence but cash. My dad did not make them wait, he did not wait for them to ask for the payment. He took out his wallet, thanked them for the job and asked how much he owed, and he paid. My dad died an honest man, respected by all.

How many times have I done a job and waited, awkwardly, to be paid, hoping I would not have to actually ask for the payment? more times than I can remember. How many times I have sent out past due notices to members, only to be answered with silence. This is not the way of the Bible.

We all get distracted, we are all a work in progress and this is something we all must work on; learning to pay on time, it is simply the right thing to do.

Remember the great Maimonides from the 12th century; One who does not pay what he owes it is as if he has taken a life.

Will anyone be quoting you 900 years from now?

Do the right thing.

Rabbi Moses ben Maimon מֹשֶׁה בֶּן־מַימוֹןMōšeh bēn-Maymōn; Arabic: موسى بن ميمون‎‎ Mūsā bin Maymūn), commonly known as Maimonides.

Greek Μαϊμωνίδης , and also referred to by the acronym Rambam  (רמב״ם‎, for Rabbeinu Mōšeh bēn Maimon, "Our Rabbi Moses son of Maimon"), was a medieval Sephardi Jewish philosopher who became one of the most prolific and influential Torah scholars of the Middle Ages.

In his time, he was also a preeminent astronomer and physician.

Born in Cordoba, Almoravid Empire (present-day Spain) on Passover eve, 1135 or 1138, he worked as a rabbi, physician, and philosopher in Morocco and Egypt. He died in Egypt on December 12, 1204, whence his body was taken to the lower Galilee and buried in Tiberius, Israel.

Aside from being revered by Jewish historians, Maimonides also figures very prominently in the history of Islamic and Arab sciences and is mentioned extensively in studies.

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