Thursday, October 18, 2012

340 - Re'eh

In this week's parsha Moshe mentions the commandment of giving ma'aser - tithes. Rav Wolbe (see Ma'amarei Yemei Ratzon pg. 459) would often quote Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l who declared that just as one should give a tenth of his money to those who are financially less fortunate, so too, he should give a tenth of his time to those who are spiritually less fortunate. Rav Wolbe (ibid.) also quotes numerous sources that delineate the importance of bringing other people closer to the service of Hashem.

Rabbeinu Yonah (Sha'arei Teshuva 3, 158) writes, "Now contemplate the great obligation we have to sanctify Hashem: Since the primary reason that Hashem sanctified us with His Torah and mitzvos and singled us out as His nation is so that we should sanctify Him and fear Him, it is only proper that those who sanctify Him should they themselves be sanctified."

With this Rabbeinu Yonah in mind, we can understand an awesome statement made by the Chovos Halevovos (Sha'ar HaBitachon chap 6.). "One is not worthy of meriting the reward of Olam Haba solely through the performance of good actions. Rather, he becomes worthy before G-d with two additional things after the good deed. The first of which is instructing people toward the service of Hashem and guiding them to do good." Such a statement seems mind boggling! He implies that even if one performed all the mitzvos of the Torah, sans the one stated above, he is not worthy of meriting the reward of the next world! However, according to Rabbeinu Yonah, we can gain an understanding of this idea. The very purpose of all the mitzvos is a mere prelude to sanctifying Hashem's Name in this world. Therefore, he who fails to cause Hashem's Name to be sanctified in front of others, is lacking the most essential aspect of the mitzvos.

Elsewhere (Sha'ar Ahavas Hashem chap. 6), the Chovos Halevovos implies that one who limits his avodas Hashem to his own self perfection will certainly receive reward. Yet, he continues, the reward will not come close to the reward of one who also helps others in their avodas Hashem. He compares these two people to two merchants who bought shoes for ten dollars. The first merchant sold one pair of shoes for a hundred dollars, ten times the original price, netting a total profit of ninety dollars. The second merchant sold the shoes for a mere twenty dollars, but he sold thousands of pairs. Despite the fact that the first merchant netted a much greater profit for the pair of shoes that he sold, nevertheless, the second merchant's earnings were thousands of dollars greater than those of the first merchant. Likewise, although one who spends his entire life focusing on his own spirituality will certainly earn great reward for his self perfection, nevertheless, it cannot begin to compare to the reward merited by one who also helps others grow in their spirituality.

The Rambam writes that the Final Redemption will come only after Bnei Yisroel do teshuva. Let us take an active part in this teshuva process. Our demeanor, both bein adom l'makom and bein adom l'chaveiro, should be such that those who see us think, "I, too, wish to be like that." Moreover, when we have the ability to say a good word to those spiritually less fortunate, and most certainly if we have the opportunity to impart to them some of the beauty and truth of the Torah, we should seize the moment and do it. It's a small action, but it earns infinite reward! 

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