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The Benefits of Bankruptcy

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

Library » Holidays » Yom Kippur » Essays | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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“Are you plagued by creditors? Is your debt load too much for you to bear? Declare bankruptcy and be permanently relieved of your crushing burden. Call the law firm of Steinberg, Steinberg & Steinberg; they have been specializing in helping debt beleaguered people for more than 25 years. A simple phone call to 800-123-4567 will get you started on the legal process which will allow you to start a new and exciting chapter in your life...”

You’ve heard these word, or variations thereof, countless times while commuting to work during commercial breaks in the morning news, or during breaks in action while watching a ball game. Hopefully your personal financial state of affairs doesn’t cause you to be deeply interested in the content of these commercials – and may G-d bless all His children with wealth and prosperity, that “we will not be dependant upon the gifts of mortal men nor upon their loans, but only upon Your full, open, holy and generous hand” – but the spiritual lesson we can cull from the idea of bankruptcy is relevant to us all.

In times bygone, a person who couldn’t repay his loans would rot in debtor’s jail. Once in jail, the pitiable debtor had no opportunity to earn any wages in order to satisfy his debts. His chance of freedom depended on the faint possibility that a friend or relative would provide the money to repay his debts. In modern, enlightened societies, debtor’s jails are relegated to the pages of history texts and are considered relics of a dark era which thankfully has past. Instead, we now recognize that a person must be given the ability to have a new start, because it is virtually impossible for many to put together the broken pieces of what was hitherto a mismanaged financial ledger while burdened by unbearable debt.

There is no need to take an oath—the Judge knows very well whether we speak truthfully and sincerely... With the angel Michael serving as our seasoned attorney, we will turn to G-d and present our dismal case.
In the spiritual sense, virtually all of us are plagued by heavy debt. We have committed many sins, overdrawing our account to the point that we are utterly insolvent. During the Days of Judgment, it would be appropriate for the Judge to condemn us to debtor’s jail – Purgatory – until a friend or relative does some Mitzvot on our behalf, bringing salvation and solace for our sorry souls.

But our benevolent G-d allows us – indeed He encourages us – to declare bankruptcy. The legal proceedings, which usually begin on the eve of Yom Kippur and continue for 25 hours, will be held in your local synagogue. (For those who cannot make it to the “court-house,” there is an option to connect to the Judge from the comfort of your home through “spiritual DSL.”) There is no need to take an oath—the Judge knows very well whether we speak truthfully and sincerely... With the angel Michael serving as our seasoned attorney, we will turn to G-d and present our dismal case.

The Judge will grant our bankruptcy request provided that we demonstrate that we understand the error of our past ways, and submit to the Court a viable proposal for restructuring our lives in the future.

Let us not miss the scheduled court date. After Yom Kippur it is quite difficult – but always possible – to assemble the court for a special session...

May the A-mighty hear our prayers and grant all of Israel a new beginning—the beginning of a sweet new year; a year of happiness and Redemption through our righteous Moshiach.


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RELATED CATEGORIES

Mitzvot » Repentance
Holidays » Yom Kippur » Repentance

Moshiach
The Messiah. Moshiach is the person who will usher in an era of peace and tranquility for all of humanity when there will be no jealousy or hate, wars or famine. This is a fundamental Jewish belief.
Mitzvot
Plural form of Mitzvah. Commandments of G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Yom Kippur
Day of Atonement. This late-autumn high-holiday is the holiest day of the year. We devote this day to repentance and all healthy adults are required to fast.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.