In describing the impact of the blessings highlighted in this week’s Parsha, the Torah states (28:3) “And the blessings will come upon you, and they will reach you…” Many Meforshim (Torah commentators) are bothered by the question, what is being added by “and they shall reach you?” Obviously, once blessings come upon you, they have reached you. And yet it is clear from the Torah that not all blessings that come to you, are necessarily actualized. The Meforshim have various explanations, but the question itself brings to mind a striking parable related by the Chofetz Chaim, zy’a, whose 89th Yahrzeit will be observed this coming week.
We say three times daily in the Shemone Esrei… V’Sabeinu M’Tuvecha…We say three times daily in the Shemone Esrei, in the Brocha of Bareich Aleinu – V’Sabeinu M’Tuvecha…, which means literally, and we will be satiated from your goodness. The Chofetz Chaim wondered why is there a need to be blessed with satiation – if one receives enough of Hashem’s goodness, he’ll obviously reach the point of being satisfied. The Chofetz Chaim explains with the following story.
You are trying to hide in a third-class coach, but you have a first-class ticket! An ignorant villager was intent on taking a ride on a railroad, something he had only dreamed of until now. He saved up money and bought (unknowingly) a first class ticket. Not knowing appropriate riding protocol, he decided to carefully observe his fellow travelers to know how to conduct himself properly. He followed a group of shabbily dressed peasants, with whom he felt comfortable, and ended up in the last car of the train. After a while, a loud voice was heard calling out “tickets,” which was the voice of the conductor, making his way around the train to make sure everyone had paid for a ticket. At that point, our villager observed the peasants all diving under seats and finding hiding places in and outside the car, to avoid detection. The villager followed suit and tried to hide, but was caught by the conductor. When the conductor demanded to see the villager’s ticket, and he saw what the villager handed him, he began shouting insults at the villager. “What a fool you are – don’t you realize what you hold in your hand? You are trying to hide in a third-class coach, but you have a first-class ticket!”
The Chofetz Chaim said, so many of us are like this villager. We have a first-class ticket – Torah and Mitzvos, but we don’t realize or appreciate what we have, and squander our lives hiding in a third-class coach, endlessly pursuing materialism, wasting precious time on empty pursuits, being envious of others, not really aware of our own treasured birthright.
We must teach our children to find joy and pride in being Torah Jews. Let’s be very aware of this as we raise our children. Hashem has blessed us with so much goodness – but if we focus our search for success and achievement outside of Torah, not only won’t we find it but we will be eternal fools for ignoring what we have. We must teach our children to find joy and pride in being Torah Jews – and it starts with our attitudes and our behavior. Hashem has provided the goodness, we now pray that He help us see it, find it and hold onto it.
Best wishes for a Shabbos of satisfaction,
Rabbi Kalman Baumann