AUGUST 23-24, 2013 18 ELUL 5773
“Hashem shall open for you his storehouse of goodness, the heavens, to provide rain for your land in its time.” (Debarim 28:12)
This week we learn that Hashem has a storehouse. For we are told in the verse stated above that if we observe the misvot, Hashem will open His storehouse of goodness in order to bring the rain in its time. What’s in Hashem’s storehouse? It says in the Gemara (Berachot 33b) that Hashem has nothing but our fear of Hashem. Usually someone puts in his treasury something that he gathers from somewhere else, but what is there in the world that Hashem doesn’t have that He likes to put in His treasury? The only thing that He doesn’t have is our fear of Him. Our Sages say, “Everything is in the hands of Hashem except for the fear of Heaven.” All that transpires to a person, whether he is rich or poor, wise or foolish, is not a matter of choice or free will, but is preordained by Hashem. But regarding whether a man will be righteous or evil, he is given free will. Since fear and awe of Hashem is the only thing not dictated by Hashem, it is what He chose to keep in his treasure house.
Our Sages teach us that there is a special key for rain, and Hashem doesn’t give that key to any messenger or angel. Why not? Because the pasuk above says that it’s from Hashem’s treasure house of fear of Hashem that He chooses to “provide rain for the land in its time.” Since the contents of this treasure house are so beloved in the eyes of Hashem, He chooses not to give the keys to a messenger.
Today, people think that if someone receives the right education and works hard enough, he or she is guaranteed to be financially successful. However when it comes to spiritual ideals, people look around and declare that while they may respect the aspirations of others. “I am just not cut out for it myself.” Really, the opposite is true.
Wealth or poverty is predestined at birth, though it can be influenced through prayer and good deeds. While we are obligated to try our best, neither hard work nor the right education is the source of wealth.
The only things really in our hands are the choices we make in spiritual matters. Unlike our financial security, our level of observance is up to us to decide, and this – more than anything else – is what we really should be focusing on and working on.
Ironically, it turns out that rain, which represents our livelihood (parnasah) has its true source in Hashem’s treasure house. So if we merit to contribute our own portion of fear of Hashem to that treasury, Hashem opens that treasury and provides rain, or on our terms livelihood, to us. So it’s not really our efforts but it’s our level of religiosity that provides livelihood. May Hashem provide us all with our needs, Amen. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"Because you did not serve Hashem, your G-d, with joy" (Debarim 28:47)
The Torah lists a long string of misfortunes that may befall the Jewish people (G-d forbid). Indeed, some of the events mentioned in these curses are very tragic and have happened to our nation throughout history. The reason given for this harsh conduct by Hashem against us is that we did not serve Hashem with happiness.
The Ari z"l gives this verse a twist and learns it in a novel fashion. The reason for these curses is that when we did not serve Hashem, we did it with happiness, which means that when we were doing sins, we did them with a good feeling rather than with regret and remorse.
This has to teach us that not only our actions count but even our attitudes while doing these actions. If we end up doing something wrong, we have to feel badly even while doing it so that it's not considered as if we did the wrong thing with happiness. One of the methods of following this advice is by doing misvot with happiness. If we feel good when doing the right thing, even if we sometimes fall and do the wrong thing it will not be with joy but with reluctance and hopefully regret. That way we will tend to increase those things which we associate with happiness, which are the misvot, and stay away from those things which we are doing without happiness! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
Buying new computer equipment or any electronic device is a matter of timing. When contemplating a major purchase of a product that you don’t know much about, a good approach is to request help from someone familiar with the subject. This “expert” may be a computer geek, a phone freak, an audiophile, or someone who spends hours reading about and “shopping” the product you are interested in acquiring. By asking someone who knows, you minimize your chances of making a wrong choice in the over-abundant, complex consumer market.
But asking someone who “knows” also presents a pitfall. The expert is not only aware of what is currently in the stores, but is also up to date on the newer, faster, and more feature-packed model that will hit the market very soon. The novice is then apt to decide to wait – and wait – and wait! Why? Because there is always another improvement that will soon be introduced. “Why should I buy the current model when the new one offers so much more?” is the reasoning that holds off many a final decision.
This “wait for the new one” syndrome is habit forming. A person who puts off one decision and then another is eventually transformed from a decisive person who gets things done, to one who is indecisive and accomplishes very little.
When you have the opportunity to finalize a decision and act on it, yet a reason to procrastinate arises, remember: “If not now, when?” (Pirkei Abot 1:14). A moment of decisiveness will help you become a “now” person who gets things done, rather than a “never” person who is always waiting for tomorrow, when the “new model” will come out. (One Minute With Yourself – Rabbi Raymond Beyda)
A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.
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