This week’s perasha contains more commandments than any other: a total of 74, that’s 12% of all those in the Torah! Several of the commandments relate to money, and are especially worth thinking about in the period immediately before Rosh Hashanah when we should be reviewing how we have behaved in the realm of our monetary affairs.
The Torah forbids offering a sacrifice to God using the proceeds of prostitution. The example given is of a man who gave a woman an animal as payment for services. The woman is forbidden to bring this animal to the Temple as a sacrifice.
As the New Year approaches we may realise that we have not been altogether honest in our dealings, and feel that a generous donation can assuage our feelings of guilt. The message is that on the contrary, donating such money to a “worthy cause” is an additional transgression!
The solution is to make sure we put right any wrongs we have done and pay back to others anything we owe them. We can then bring to the “Temple” with a clear conscience money that was acquired honestly!
If one commited to give a sacrifice in the Temple, he or she may not delay it past the Pilgrim Festivals.
In the heat of the moment we sometimes “commit” to things – whether giving a donation to the synagogue, studying more Torah, spending more time with the kids, volunteering, and so on – then, when we are busy with our lives we reason that we can’t really do it after all. Or that if we wait just a little longer we’ll be able to fulfill the promise better with the extra income earned or time gained in the meantime.
This prohibition is a warning against doing this. Once we have agreed to do something, we must do our best to fulfill it. The Torah is basically enjoining us to be honest with ourselves.
Paying employees on time
Sometimes people are hired for an agreed wage and when it comes to payment time there is a temptation to procrastinate or haggle. “The job wasn’t done exactly as intended.” “It’s not worth this much.”
The Torah warns us to avoid these rationalisations and make sure to pay our workers on time.