Subscribe to a Weekly Series

Posted on February 21, 2020 (5780) By Rabbi Label Lam | Series: | Level:

If the stolen article is found in his possession whether a bull, a donkey, or a lamb live ones he shall pay twofold. If a man leads his animals into a field or a vineyard, or lets his animal loose and it eats in another’s field, the best of his field or the best of his vineyard he shall pay. (Shemos 22:3-4)

Life is filled with temptations. The Torah cautions about all possible deviations to keep us on the straight and narrow path. We are not only responsible for what we do but also for what our animals do as well. The soup of life is dense with opportunities to grow rich with Mitzvos and/or to stray into another’s field and incur expenses.

Can we ask, “Why did HASHEM create this maze of complexity?” The Ramchal spells out in Derech HASHEM that it is HASHEM’s desire to bestow kindliness on another. The full flavor of that goodness can only be experienced in the next world. That raises another obvious question or the same question, “Why did HASHEM create this maze of complexity?” “Why did HASHEM not just place the souls of those who He wishes to shower with goodness directly in the next world? Why does one have to walk through the gauntlet of this world first? That is the question!?

It could be that the purpose of the entire creation was revealed to me in a brief encounter I had with a student at the time of dismissal. The boys were exiting the building and I reached into my pocket and handed to one young man a candy. As he received it I asked him gently, “Did you behave well today?” He paused and thought for a moment, shook his head no and discretely hand the candy back to me and got on the bus.

I was amazed! He could not allow himself to honestly accept a candy that I’m sure he would have wanted to have. Yet he begged away because according to his own estimation he had not truly acted in a deserving way. At the moment I was stunned with joy at the integrity of the child. Later on, though, I found myself reflecting on this episode though a grand philosophical lens.

The Zohar says that the reason HASHEM created this material world as a prelude to the next ultimate spiritual world is because of a concept known as, “NAHAMA D’KISUFA”- “The Bread of Shame”. Simply explained, Reb Dessler wrote that a person would rather not get credit for something that they did do than get credit for something they didn’t do and to be glorified for something they are truly not.

That praise is actually painful to the soul. It could be that Gan Eden and Gehinom – Heaven and Hell are actually be the same. To the extent that one labored to bask in the presence of HASHEM it is the ultimate delight while for the one for whom this is fraudulently earned it is extremely embarrassing and discomforting. Light is so good and light can be cruel. It depends upon what it reveals.

Therefore as the Mesilas Yesharim cautions, that by design the world is filled with temptations and tests, tremendous risks and great opportunities for reward. In the end everything is a perfectly just dessert, and as the Mishne in Pirke Avos tells, “According to the effort is the reward!” It’s the degree of effort and the struggling involved with doing Mitzvos, standing up to life’s tests, and improving ourselves that determines the ultimate candy of existence, just how sweet it is!