Section:  Avodah   Category: Ahavas Yisroel
A Billionaire's Priorities - Rav Moshe Saba Z"L

A caption written under a picture of Moshe Saba whispering into a Bar Mitzva boy's ear at a family Bar Mitzva just before he was tragically killed, says that he told the Bar Mitzva boy that although we have lots of money we must keep our priorities straight. 

Although until the tragic accident most of us may or may not have heard of him, there was a lot to read about in the wake of his death.  True the media is not the best place to pick up information, but nevertheless there were some really inspiring things written that can only make us ordinary people blush with shame.

Moshe Saba supported thousands, not only the needy but he was a tremendous benefactor of Torah.  Incredible amounts of Torah and Chesed surely escorted him to Shamayim.  Although his schar is incomprehensible, such deeds will never impress us struggling working class people.  Rightly or wrongly (probably the latter) we will always think, so what.  If we had that kind of money we'd do even more.  Why do the wealthy think they can buy their way into Olam Haba and still have a good time down here, while we struggle?  (Obviously we've never been tested with wealth, but that won't change our mindset.)

What we could relate to was the fact that he was not only a Baal tzedaka but also a Ben Torah and a Ben Aliyah.  I imagine as billionaire communications and TV mogul there would be meetings and phone calls that would keep him up until all hours of the night.  Surely a man of his stature had an overwhelming amount of social functions that occupied his time late into the night on a regular basis.  Yet he was a fixture at the Vasikin minyan.  How many of us wake up late because we stayed up a bit past our bedtime for any trivial cause? 

Hear how much money he had and see pictures of him, then listen to tales about his Sidrei Limud and his dedication to them.  My goodness!  He even learned more Torah every day than I do?  How embarrassing!  And how many important meetings do I have?  Maybe once every month or two.  Not only a seder in the morning and the night, but he even gave Shiurim.  Could I do that?  What do I know?  What could I teach about?  Truly embarrassing!

One time on his way to his evening Chavrusa he heard that there was an earthquake in a region where he had many cellular antennas.  The financially losses could have been a severe set back.  Surely his managers needed him then, like never before.  Yet as he entered the Bais Medrash he turned off his cellphone and tuned out to enter a different world.  What about us who after years of being rebuked, are first starting to understand that Shmoneh Esrei is not the time to check who is calling?

One of the difficult business decisions he needed to make in his life was giving up an ownership stake in an Israeli TV station after the deal had been completed and was just waiting for his signature.  This was not an ordinary business investment.  TV was his core business and he had a chance to expand his empire beyond his local borders, and in no better place than Eretz Yisroel.  He believed his ownership could make a difference for the better.  Yet when his Gedolim felt otherwise, after much inner turmoil he submitted himself to their will.

We all talk about priorities but often we miss the mark.  We like to believe the areas that we are naturally strong are the most important priorities, and why not, it certainly suits our interest.  Moshe Saba could have easily rested on his laurels, feeling good about the vast amounts of tzedaka and chesed he generously dispensed.  But he was smart enough to live with the truth.

The gemara Shabbos (31a) says the first question they ask you in Shamayim is Nasasa V'Nasata BeEmuna.  People translate this to mean did you deal honestly in business.  Only after does Hashem ask about your Torah learning.  This is a perplexing question to ask first.  Why are we so concerned with business dealings?  Sure there are lots of potential aveiros involved, but why those first.  Why not did you watch your Kashrus or did you plant wheat in your vineyard?

Maybe the answer lies in the mistranslation.  Hashem does not ask Nasasa V'Nasata Btzedek or U'BiYosher, did you deal righteously and fairly, rather BeEmuna with faith.  Did you live your life as if you were the master of your financial destiny, or did you understand that everything you have is from Hashem.  This is a fundamental question that tells a lot about if we succeeded in our earthly mission, and rightfully is the opening shot across the bow.  Only after setting the record straight comes the question of how much Torah did we learn.  Not how much did you delegate and how much did you support, but how much you actually learned.  Sure they will get to that as well, but if it was truly important to you, you wouldn't leave it for others.  Was it a permanent feature in your day and in your life, or was it lower down on your list and you only learned when all the important matters were taken care of? 

There is nothing more painful than arriving Shamayim after playing out your life's mission on earth in a manner that you deep down knew was not your true mission, but looked kosher enough so you convinced yourself otherwise.  Regardless of how many good deeds you did, the full weight of the truth and your failure to live up to it will hit you like a Mack Truck the instant life ends. 

What Moshe Saba had in mind when he reminded his nephew about priorities is not something that we can know.  The one thing we can know is that in practice, despite all the distractions and all the responsibility he carried, he had his priorities straight.  Surely upon his arrival in Shamayim, Moshe Saba got off to a good start, and cleared the very difficult opening hurdle, even before the Heavenly Court's Chief Financial Officer was brought in to testify.  Moshe Saba's life, his modesty, his generousity, and his dedication to the Klal is surely an inspiring example for the wealthy.  But more than that his life was an example to you and me.  It is an example that we all need to learn from because it is a lesson about priorities and not about money.  And we can all use a refresher course every now and then, especially from a man who can deliver the message in a most powerful way.