Thursday, June 14, 2007

What's a life worth?

I have a price on my head! I now know how much my life is worth. Well, actually how much my death is worth. I finally bought myself some life insurance. Now, if anything happens to me (chas v'shalom) I am worth one million shekels. Not very much is it.

The question is, how much am I worth alive? I can't figure out if I am worth that much or not. Depends what kind of mood I'm in I suppose.

Life insurance is one of those things that allegedly shows a person has no faith in G-d. If someone really trusts that G-d will provide (so the saying goes), he won't require insurance.

There are many really good stories in 'a Tzadik in our Time' by Simcha Raz. This life insurance one is cute, but slightly dangerous. (it is on pp. 99-100 of the English book).

Someone once tried to sell R' Aryeh Levine a life insurance policy. It was someone who was working on commission and needed the income, so the Rabbi wanted very much to help him. But he decided that he couldn't have life insurance.

Since G-d is a true judge, he must take into account what will happen to a person's relatives and friends if the person were to be punished. Very often we are spared, not in our own merit, but because of the hardship it would cause to our family if something were to happen. This is what he told the insurance seller:

Assume now (said the good Rabbi) that, Heaven forbid, I committed some terrible sins for which I deserved death. There would be a trial before the A-lmighty, and He would prepare to give the fatal verdict - wen suddenly an angel would rise up and say, 'Wait a moment. The man has a wife and children. What of the great hardship they will suffer if his life is ended? Do they desert that?' So to speak, the A-lmighty will shake His head and will prepare to cancel the verdict, to let me live so that I can support my family -when suddenly another angel will arise and say, 'Yes - but the man has life insurance!'

Still, every day when I see flyers requesting tzedaka for orphans and widows who have nothing to live on, I think how good it is to rely on G-d, but how bad it is to substitute that reliance with relying on other people instead. Is it really a good thing to assume that you can become a burden on others to demonstrate your trust in G-d? I know there are many people who have no alternative, or those who took precautions and nevertheless have to come cap in hand to ask for tzedakah, through no fault of their own.

But it seems obvious to me, that even though it is risky to have life insurance, it is better than being dependent on others and being a burden on society.

And at least I know how much I'm worth.

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