Tevet 24
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Tevet 24

A doctor who treats for nothing is worth nothing (Bava Kama 85a).

The Talmud teaches that "there is no free lunch." Anything of value comes with a price tag, and if something is given away free, we should suspect that it may be worthless.

People are reluctant to accept some things as true. Today, a millennium and a half after the Talmud was written down, we still yearn to get things for free, and if not completely free, then at the least possible cost.

Nothing is wrong with bargain hunting. At the end of a season, some leftover merchandise of good quality may be put on sale, or discontinued models may be available at a fraction of their original price. Still, we must be cautious that we do not extend this penchant for bargains to areas where it can be destructive, such as relationships or other things of spiritual value.

Valuable relationships can be costly. If we are not willing to sacrifice our comfort for a relationship, but look only for friends or spouses that will demand nothing of us, the Talmud teaches that this relationship will be worth exactly what we invest in it: nothing. Likewise, if we seek spiritual goals that will come easily to us without any effort or deprivation on our part, we will achieve goals that are worth nothing.

The Talmud uses the example of free medical care to teach us that for things that are truly important, such as our health, we must be willing to bear the cost. We should apply this lesson to other items of value."

Today I shall...

try to avoid bargain hunting for those things that are truly important to me.

With stories and insights, Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...

Published: May 21, 2009

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