Israelis in Beitar Illit found a practical application for the biblical mandate to “love thy neighbor,” rejecting monetary damages in favor of time spent learning Torah!
Two neighbors in Beitar Illit, outside of Jerusalem, recently developed a novel, inspiring resolution to a sticky legal dispute.
The disagreement arose after a man submitted an application to expand his apartment due to overcrowding, but his neighbor opposed the addition because it would block sunlight from entering several of her rooms.
When the man offered financial compensation to make up for the loss of natural light, his neighbor refused, offering to acquiesce only if the man committed to participate, in her merit, in the worldwide daily Talmud study program called “daf yomi.”
The two parties worked out a detailed agreement concerning the compromise and the complainant withdrew her opposition, to the astonishment of members of the local building, which oversaw the dispute.
“I’ve been on the committee for 14 years and I’ve never encountered such an unusual concession and in exchange for something spiritual,” Avishai Meron, the city engineer said, according to a report on the Beitar Online website. “I was very moved.”
Another member of the committee said, “I believe that this is the only case in the history of the Planning & Building Committee that was solved in a spiritual way. In most of the cases, a compromise is reached through financial compensation, but this was completely different,” Beitar Online reported.
Since its inception, in 1920, Jews around the world have studied the same page of Talmud in order to complete its massive 2,711 pages within seven and a half years. Each page can take between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours to complete. Committing to this 7.5-year study cycle represents a massive commitment.
The purpose of daf yomi is not only to learn biblical precepts and rabbinical insight, but also to unite Jews worldwide, with all participants throughout the globe studying the same page each day.
According to the Beitar Online report, the woman changed her mind after reflecting on the area in her home which would receive less sunlight due to the addition.
She said to herself, “Money comes and money goes. I want something eternal,” with the latter a reference to the eternal merit accrued by those who learn Torah.
She concluded, “Every day for the next seven and a half years I’ll look at [that area of my home] and I’ll know that I’m receiving something [eternal] in exchange.”