Chofetz Chaim - Lots of Dumb Businessmen But Not Even One Fool!
In the olden days the big fairs were attended by tens of thousands of people all hocking their wares or looking for some good merchandise to sell back home at a profit. Some of the attendees were shrewd businessmen while others were naive dreamers just waiting to be fooled or cheated by con artists. Yet they all had one thing in common says the Chofetz Chaim (Shem Olam 11)....
The fair was a huge financial boon for the host city and the surrounding villages. Rooms were cleaned and rented and feasts were prepared to feed the hungry travelers. Every delicacy could be had, as each host tried to outdo their neighbor and earn some money during this rare opportunity.
Yet says the Chofetz Chaim among all the attendees, both smart and dumb alike, not even a single attendee lost site of his purpose and the goals he wished to achieve at the fair, namely doing business and earning money. While indeed the food was enticing, no one wandered among the restaurants and makeshift coffee shops and totally lost sight of the activities of the fair itself.
Yet, says the Chofetz Chaim, we have lost all our bearings to the point that we are bigger fools than the biggest fool at the fair. We have come for a relatively short time to the great fair called "life", to earn unimaginable profits and rewards to take back home for eternity. Unlike the fairs in Leipzig with its limited profit opportunities where the best merchandise is not available to all, our fair is loaded with opportunity. One need not be shrewed or conniving to get a good deal. Great deals are to be had at every stand no matter where you turn. And yet we pass them by and head straight for the concession stand waiting on line for some sushi or hot dogs.
We spend our limited lifetime surveying the landscape for gratification and forget that very quickly we will be going home. All will greet us waiting to see what we brought, and we will stand there in shame wondering how smart businessmen like ourselves were fooled in the worst way at a fair where even the dumb can make oodles of money.