Past Weekly Shabbat Message
Rabbi Dovid Saks
(Torah Portion Ki Seitzai ) Partners!
The other day I had a conversation with a professed atheist who has a terrific and wry sense of humor. I asked him if he can prove his atheistic position to me. His priceless response ... "That, I can't - thank G-d!" Needless to say, we both had a hearty laugh!
The bottom line is that deep down we all have a piece of G-d in our core - no matter how much one professes to the contrary. As the adage goes, "There is no atheist in a foxhole."
This Sunday is the first Yahrtzait of our dear friend Gilbert 'Gibby' Weinberger. Gibby once nostalgically related to me, that while in a foxhole serving in the US army during WWII, he Leiged Tefilin - he put on his Tefillin! I reacted with a 'wow' to this story, and Gibby looked at me and matter of factly said, "Of course I put on Tefilin even there. In fact, it was the most important place to do this Mitzvah - since I was in harm's way!"
Gibby also related that he received a purple heart for a bullet injury in his arm. The bullet was actually shot towards his heart. Miraculously, it was deflected by his Siddur that was tucked into his shirt pocket and it ricocheted into his arm - "My Siddur saved my life!"
A friend of mine related an insight that a Kabbalist told someone who had doubts about choosing a mate. He said, "If a person makes a decision based completely on his personal assessment, feeling one hundred percent certain that this is his mate, then he is left to his own devices to make sure things work out."
"However," continued the Kabbalist, "if a person does his best to make the right decision and then places his trust in the Almighty, the Almighty becomes a partner in the decision and G-d becomes responsible to invest His blessings and input so that the joint endeavor becomes successful, secure and flourishes."
This awesome concept of taking G-d in as a partner can be applied to every situation we face.
In this week's Parsha the Torah tells us a law that a mother bird must be sent away before one takes her eggs or chicks from its nest. Immediately following, the Torah commands us to build a protective fence around the usable roof of a new home. The Torah then commands us not to plant grain in close proximity to a vineyard. The Torah then commands us not to wear an article of clothing that is blended with wool and linen (Shatnez).
Rashi wonders, what is the connection between these laws?
He explains: The Torah is teaching us that when one performs the Mitzvah of sending away the mother bird - or for that matter, any Mitzvah, the reward for the Mitzvah is that he will build a new house and fulfill the mitzvah of building a fence, then he will plant a vineyard and will get new and beautiful clothing.
Shem MeShmuel wonders, what does Rashi mean by saying he will get reward for doing a Mitzvah? After all, the Mishna in Ethics of our Fathers states that we do not receive reward for Mitzvos in this limited world, rather we will receive the reward for our deeds in Olam Habah - in the Eternal World.
Shem MeShmuel answers that when you pay close attention to Rashi's explanation you will see that the reward that he refers to is not our actual reward for doing the Mitzvah. Rather, the reward for doing a Mitzvah is the wherewithal to do additional Mitzvos through the blessings that G-d provides. Such as; building a new house presents the opportunity to perform the Mitzvos of building a protective fence, affix Mezzuzos, and utilizing the home for other Mitzvahs. When receiving the blessing of planting a vineyard, one will have Mitzvah opportunities to make sure that no forbidden mixtures are grown. When receiving the blessing of clothing we are to make sure that we don't violate the prohibition of Shatnez.
Thus, the rewards that we receive in this world for our performance of Mitzvos are not the ultimate reward for the Mitzvah itself, rather they give us the ability to accrue further Mitzvah opportunities, as the Mishna in Ethics of our Fathers teach us, Mitzvah Goreres Mitzva - One Mitzvah triggers us to perform additional Mitzvahs!
One of the prayers that we insert into the Amidah prayers from Rosha Hashana through Yom Kippur is, "Remember us for life, O King who desires life, and inscribe us in the Book of Life - for Your sake, O Living G-d."
What is the meaning of, give of us life - "for Your Sake, O Living G-d?"
Says the Shem Mishmuel, we are asking G-d for the gift and blessing of life in order that we will be able to best serve the Almighty. Thus our prayer for life becomes hinged on our connection to G-d and it turns out to be, "for His Sake!"
Wishing you a most enjoyable & uplifting Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks