Dear Aish Family,
What a Sukkos it has been!! There is so much to say and describe. We had an amazing Birkas Kohanim (blessing from the Jewish Priests) event with our Aish Partners on the roof of the Aish HaTorah Dan Family World Center. A sunrise Minyan on Hoshana Rabba overlooking the Temple Mount. Passionate and joyous Hakafos (dancing with the Torah) at our Yeshiva with Yaakov Shwekey. Perhaps the most exciting for me was the ability to spend every meal on the Aish roof with well over 500 of our special Aish partners.
I want to relate one story that one of our partners related to me over one of those meals. He is in real estate and we started to speak about what it was like to be a Torah Jew in a business environment. He told me that he had an incredible story to share with me that could only happen as a result of being a Torah Jew.
He and his partner were moving to an expedited close of a very large real estate purchase. All was set to close on Monday when he received a call on the Thursday before informing him that the bank has decided to not fund his mortgage. This was a disaster because if he did not close on Monday, he would receive a $9 million penalty. He immediately demanded a meeting with the bank on Friday morning and went with his mortgage broker who also keeps Shabbos.
They spent all day Friday trying to work out the terms of the loan. At a certain point, they had to get into their cars and go home for Shabbos, not knowing whether their efforts had been enough. They received a call on the way home that the bank had decided to fund the loan and that all that was needed was to lock in a rate.
The person telling me the story politely told them that it was close to Shabbos and that it would have to happen very soon. The bank promised it would move fast. He received a call from the banker at minute 17 of the 18 minutes to OK the rate lock in. (Jew’s traditionally light candles 18 minutes before Shabbos so we don’t make a mistake and accidentally violate Shabbos.) They just had to get the trader on the phone to verify the rate lock. He dutifully told them that they had 30 seconds to get the trader, or he would have to hang up the phone for Shabbos.
30 seconds later there was no trader, so what did he do with a tremendous amount of money on the line? He dutifully hung up the phone, because serving the Almighty superseded the deal and he accepted Shabbos upon himself. The phone rang and rang the whole Friday night but he would not pick it up.
On Saturday night when he had made Havdallah, he finally called them back. They said they had never had anything like that happen before. Money always took precedence in their world. Not only that, but the rate had dropped 12 points over Shabbos and he had saved a tremendous amount of money.
This successful business man looked at me and said, “Now tell me what other nation would conduct business that way.” Indeed this is a major ingredient to the success of the Jewish people. For 3000 years we have kept the Shabbos and the Shabbos has kept us linked and close to the Almighty.
This is not to say that we don’t love our Jewish brothers and sisters, regardless of whether or not they observe Shabbos. The love between one Jew to another is sacred. That having been said, we should work hard to explain to all Jews the beauty and importance of keeping Shabbos. In today’s world, nothing can be more powerful for family than to turn off our phones and spend time with each other and the Almighty.
In this spiritual time following Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur and Sukkos, I want to encourage all of us to strengthen our commitment to Shabbos and the Almighty. Shabbos has kept the Jewish family and nation together for thousands of years. We must allow Shabbos to continue help us for many years to come.