I used to have a class with a very successful venture capitalist. One time, I started our weekly session and instead of opening the Torah to discuss a relevant issue, I asked him if he would fund my new business.
He was a little taken aback. Usually, we would be discussing some principle of existence or fundamental of parenting by now. I could see the wheels of his brain turning. Is this the rabbi’s new career?
He asked, “Well, do you have a business plan?”
“Business plan!” I laughed, “You know me, I’m a good guy, I don’t need one of those.”
He thought I was serious, and now he was getting nervous. “How much do you want?”
Five hundred thousand dollars, I deadpanned. (I wasn’t messing around with small-time incremental investments.)
He was clearly uncomfortable. This is no small amount for anyone to ask for, no less a rabbi- turned-businessman. “Okay, well what do you expect to make, what will be your return on the investment?”
“ROI.” I laughed again. “Common, I’m a good guy, you can trust me, it’s all going to work out. Don’t worry so much.”
“Okay, so what exactly is the business?”
“Listen,” I said, “Why do you need to know all these details. I’m a good guy, it’s all going to work out.” Now he was even more nervous. He had enough respect for rabbis that he didn’t know how to say no.
My compassion was sufficiently exercised; feeling that the point had been made, I explained the following:
Rosh Hashanah is in a few days. On that day, The Almighty is going to make the most important investment there is. More important than money! We will stand in front of G-d and ask Him to give us another year of life. G-d is the ultimate venture capitalist and He is going to make an investment of time. What is our business plan? What are we going to do with the year? What’s the return on investment? By next Rosh Hashanah what are we hoping to tell G-d we accomplished?
Many people answer like I did: I’m a good guy, I’m good for it, don’t worry. Just give us the year.
Rosh Hashanah is coming, and we want to live another year, so what are we going to tell G-d we are going to do with another year of life if we get it?
Come with a plan.
By Rabbi Stephen Baars
Originally from London, Rabbi Stephen Baars resides in Rockville, Maryland, and serves as executive director of Aish Seminars. He did nine years of post-graduate studies at the Aish HaTorah Rabbinical College in Jerusalem, and has been an educator and marriage counselor for the past 25 years. Learn more at www.getbliss.com and www.core9.live.