Integrity: when virtue is its own reward and when it isn't

A fair number of the divrei Torah on Chukas I read invoked the story of Dama ben Netuia, including this take in the Divrei Chaim.  There are multiple versions of the account, this  one is from Kiddushin 31a:
Rav Yehuda says that Shmuel says: They asked Rabbi Eliezer: How far must one go to fulfill the mitzva of honoring one’s father and mother? Rabbi Eliezer said to them: Go and see what one gentile did for his father in Ashkelon. Hisname was Dama ben Netina. Once the Sages wished to purchase precious stones from him for the ephod of the High Priest for six hundred thousand gold dinars or even 800 thousand gold dinars, according to Rav Kahana. However, the key to the chest holding the jewels was placed under his father’s head, and he would not disturb him.
The next year the Holy One, Blessed be He, gave Dama ben Netina his reward, as a red heifer was born in his herd, and the Jews needed it. When the Sages of Israel came to him he said to them: "I know, concerning you, that if I were to ask for all the money in the world you would give it to me. But I ask only that money that I lost due to the honor of my father."
Rabbi Ḥanina says: This is related about one who is not commanded by the Torah to honor his father, as Dama was a gentile. Nevertheless when he performs the mitzva he is given this great reward, all the more so is one rewarded who is commanded to fulfill a mitzva and performs it, for the fulfillment of a mitzvah is greater for one who is commanded to do it than for one who is not." performs it.
Remove the motivation of honoring the father from the equation, and you still find an exemplar of integrity in Dama ben Netina. In fact, some versions of the story highlight that aspect in recounting the detail of the Sages' increasing

In that way, his story offers a parallel to Rav Safra . I referred to his story a few months ago when I noted that Taleb includes it in his book. 
Here it is as related in

It happened that Rav Safra had some wine for sale, and a potential buyer came to him while he was reciting the Shema. The customer said “Sell me this wine for such and such a price.” Rav Safra did not answer [so as not to interrupt the Shema]. Assuming that he was unwilling to settle for the price offered, the customer added to his original offer, and said, “Sell me this wine for such and such a price.” Rav Safra still did not answer. [Presumably, this cycle was repeated, with ever-escalating prices.] Upon finishing the Shema, Rav Safra said to him: “From the time you made your first offer, I had resolved in my mind to sell it to you. Therefore I may take no greater amount [than your first bid].” (Sheiltot Vayehi, No. 38, ed. Mirsky, Vol. 2, p. 252 and parallels).

In Taleb's view, Rav Safra's integrity is not just ethical but good business. Had he sold the merchandise to this merchant for the higher price he was willing to pay, he would have profited just the once. But once the merchant found out that other customers were paying the lower price, he would have felt ripped off and likely would not have given Rav Safra further business. That may be so, though we don't see any direct reward for Rav Safra (even the appreciation of his honesty gaining him more orders) in this story as we see reward stipulated for Dama.

 Perhaps that is the crux of  Rabbi Hanina's observation. That a red heifer is born to Dama to allow him to profit and make up for any loss he had incurred by refusing to wake his father to access the precious stone is shown to be the direct result of the merit for his good deed. There is a tangible reward even for the one who not metzuveh veoseh. However, we are told that schar mitzvah  is not in this world but in the world to come.

In fact, Dama's merit of honoring his father is one of the exemplars of that principle, for both it and the mitzvah of shiluach hakan are linked to a reward of long life. Despite that apparent guarantee, Kiddushin 39b recounts this event:  

It occurred that there was one whose father said to him: Climb to the top of the building and fetch me chicks. And he climbed to the top of the building and dispatched the mother bird and took the young, thereby simultaneously fulfilling the mitzva to dispatch the mother bird from the nest and the mitzva to honor one’s parents, but upon his return he fell and died. Where is the goodness of the days of this one, and where is the length of days of this one? Rather, the verse “that it may be well with you” means in the world where all is well, and “that your days may be long” is referring to the world that is entirely long.

Accordingly, we have faith that good deeds do not have to be rewarded directly in this world and that nothing in our physical existence can be as great as what can be experienced on a purely spiritual plane. In such cases, we can accept that virtue is its own reward. Indeed, we say something similar in asserting mitzvah gorreres mitzvah, that doing one good thing will lead to another good action, not necessarily to a direct experience of rewqard.  But, perhaps, for one whose reward is not as great -- because of the status of not being commanded -- a reward in this world is fitting.

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