September 16, 2021

Beitzah 16

It is just over an hour after Yom Kippur has finished. I’ve had something to eat with the family, and also checked in with those whom I advised in the days prior to Yom Kippur re: fasting and eating to find out how they are doing. And now I turn to today’s daf (which, admittedly, I did glance at a little earlier today between tefillot) and to the opening lines of today’s daf (Beitzah 16a) which – remarkably – refer directly to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur where we are told:
‘All of a person’s income is fixed each year from Rosh Hashanah till Yom Kippur with the exception of what they spent for Shabbat and Yom Tov and the Torah education of your children. With these [and (as noted by the Ritva) other similar mitzvah expenditures], if you spend less, you will receive less, and if you spend more, you will receive more.’
As Rashi then adds, what this means is that we need to be responsible with our (non-mitzvah-related) expenditure because, since this is fixed at the beginning of the year, if we overspend, we can unfortunately put ourselves in debt.
Contrasting this, we are taught that we can – and perhaps should – take a more liberal approach with our mitzvah related expenditure although, as we are taught in Ketubot 50a, we should still be careful with such expenditure and certainly not exceed 20% of our income (that this applies to mitzvah expenditure, see Tosfot on Bava Kamma 9a and Rema on Orach Chaim 656:1).
So as we ebb away from Yom Kippur with a heavenly decision already made about our coming year, our task is to be responsible with what we are blessed to have, and thoughtful in how we use it, so that we use what we have to reflect our values and what should be ultimately be most important to us.
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