Parshios Behar & Bechukosai
To Fill That Void
By Rabbi Label Lam
If you will follow My decrees and observe My commandments and perform them;
then I will provide your rains in their time and the land will give its
produce and the tree of the field will give its fruit. Your threshing will
last until the vintage and the vintage will last until the sowing; you will
eat your bread to satiety and you will dwell securely in the land. (Vayikra
“A righteous person eats to satisfy his soul, but the belly of the wicked
shall feel want.” (Mishlei 13:25)
In this idyllic portrait of how harmonious life might be when the entire
Jewish Nation is in concert with the Mitzvos of HASHEM a shower of material
bounty is assured. What does it mean, “You will eat your bread to satiety”?
Is it a pledge of plenty, or alternately, is it a sensation of satisfaction-
of having enough? How can that be guaranteed?
Rashi takes a position that by eating even a little, the bread in the
stomach will carry the blessing of being satisfying. The Sifse’ Chachamim
explains the necessity of Rashi’s approach. Since the verse immediately
preceding this already promised an abundance of produce, what then is the
novelty of stating that “you will eat your bread to satiety”?
King Solomon boldly states, “A lover of money will never be satisfied with
money…” (Koheles 5:9) The Midrash counters the concept that a “lover of
money will not be satisfied with money” with the odd claim, “one who loves
Torah will not be satisfied with Torah” and “the lover of Mitzvos will not
be satisfied with Mitzvos”. What does that mean?
I heard a beautiful explanation of the intent of the Midrash. Our sages wish
to convey that because man is essentially a G-dly creature with a Divine
spark buried within he has an endless capacity; a bottomless pit seeking to
be filled by something. Whatever that something is it can never effectively
fill that that void. If it’s money and cars and food or whatever in the
material spectrum it can never sufficiently scratch that deep and infinite
itch. Even if the pursuit, the goal is for Torah and for Mitzvos the
appetite grows with the consumption. This is a positive rather than a
negative form of frustration. The struggle though is unavoidable.
Psychologist Carl Jung had stated, “During the past thirty years, people
from all the civilized countries have consulted me. I have treated many
hundreds of patients. Among all my patients in the second half of life- that
is to say over thirty-five- there has not been one whose problem in the last
resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life. It is safe to
say that everyone of them fell ill because he had lost that which the living
religions of every age have given to their followers, and none of them has
been really healed who did not regain his religious outlook.”
As with the wind pipe and the food pipe – whenever one opens the other
closes, so too when one’s sole ambition is to learn Torah, fulfill Mitzvos,
and move ever closer to G-d, the lures of this world lose their luster and
satisfaction can more easily be achieved. When the spirit is deprived then
the endless appetite for swallowing things is turned on and then no plate
can be big or full enough to fill that void.
DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.