There is no free individual, except he who occupies himself
(osek) with Torah.
Ethics of the Fathers, 6:2
The verb most often used by our sages to describe our pursuit
of spirituality through the study of Torah is not study,
learn, practice, observe or the like,
but osek (occupy oneself) a word
usually associated with the act of doing business. Indeed,
a life devoted to the study of Torah and implementation of
its ideals much resembles a businessmans occupation
with his enterprise.
Consider this attitude: I know that a crucial need
exists for my product, and that my proposition constitutes
the best value. Ill be more than happy to deal with
anyone who feels likewise and manages to get a hold of me.
Sounds like a nice guy, but not much of a businessman.
Concern for ones fellow man is usually seen as something
to be enlisted or, at the very least, appreciated. If someone
needs and wants to be helped, lend a hand. Otherwise, what
can be done?
But Torah insists that you relate to all your positive endeavors
as a business. Your knowledge, your values, your talents
do not line your coffers with them (what businessman keeps
his capital in a savings account?) or offer them only to those
who seek them from you or at least recognize their worth.
Instead, as any self-respecting businessman would, do everything
within your power to convince your fellow that he stands to
benefit from what you have to offer.
Another area in which business mirrors life is the importance
of mobility. To succeed in business, one must be on the move.
Thus, when Moses blessed the Jewish people before his passing,
Zebulun, a tribe of merchants, was given seaports in the land
of Israel and blessed with the gift of mobility
- a property as vital to the merchant of 3,000 years ago as
it is to the businessman of today.
Stagnation is anathema to business. Despite the tremendous
advances in communication technologies, the 20th-century businessman
still commutes, traveling to a place situated and equipped
for businesss specific needs. From the office, he further
ventures out to pursue business opportunities wherever they
may present themselves.
In philosophy and temperament, the businessman must also
be mobile and forward-looking. A person successful in business
is one who has learned to continuously progress and develop,
to constantly find new and innovative ways to optimally apply
his talents and resources.
This is why commerce is a solely human endeavor. Of all G-ds
creatures, man alone has been blessed with the capacity for
progress. Man alone strives upwards, forever seeking to improve
upon his inborn traits, forever seeking to perfect himself
and his world.
One who occupies himself with Torah, is one who
applies this mobility to his moral and spiritual endeavors.
To be osek with Torah is to commit oneself to the business
This is an excerpt from "Beyond the Letter of the
Law" by Yanki Tauber published by The Meaningful Life
. Rejoice, Zebulun, in your excursions...
- Deuteronomy 33:18