Shoftim: Receiving Reward in This World

FINALLY!  Back in kollel!!!


The three weeks of "vacation (from school, not work) that we had is finally over!  I’m back in kollel, my son is back in school, and the rest of the kids start this coming week.  It was a very full three weeks.  We made it a point to have guests after guests after guests, and all the kids were happy and agreed it was the best summer they had had.


One family of our guests were friends of ours with their seven children.  Somehow, he managed to rent an eight-seater monster car, so we took the oldest six children on a tour of the Galil and Golan.  He drove and I played the role of the Israeli tour guide, mixing up and destroying the English language, making up facts as I willed it, telling my group how great and strong we Israelis are, and how I personally killed a whole company of Arabs with my bare hands during the Six Day War.  As Israelis, they were able to appreciate my butchering of the languages and the supreme ego trip I was on.


When we arrived at one point, we overheard an Israeli tour guide with a small group of Americans.  My friend turned to me and said, “She does a great impersonation of you doing an impersonation of her!”


All-in-all, it was long, full, and fun.  And just to make Shabbos a bit easier, my eleven-year-old daughter is taking her five-year-old brother on the bus to Yerushaliyim for Shabbos, to be with these same friends.  So, Shabbos will be a little quieter around here, I hope.


Okay, on to Torah!


(And if you need a good Israeli tour guide who speaks "English good really," give me  a call!)


“Righteousness, righteousness shall you pursue, so that you will live and possess the Land” (Devarim 16:20).


A man, who had experienced a hard life, once asked Rav Zilberstein, “I know and believe that I will receive reward in the Next World for every mitzvah that I do here in this world.  My question is, is there any way that I can improve my life in this world through the mitzvos I do?”


Rav Zilberstein answered that the Chida writes in Ahavas David, that Hashem does not give reward in both this world and the Next unless a person exerted himself to do a mitzvah.  In that case, Hashem gives the person reward in this world for the exertion.  But, if a person fulfills a mitzvah without exertion, he receives reward only in the Next World.  The obvious exceptions are listed in the Mishnah that we recite every morning, “Honoring one's parents, doing Chesed, coming early to shul, taking in guests who need a place to stay, visiting the sick, etc.” In those cases, one receives reward in this world as well, even if he did not do it with exertion.


The Chida learns out this lesson from this week’s parsha. “Righteousness, righteousness shall you pursue . . .” The double-language tells us that we should REALLY pursue righteousness (read: mitzvos).  If so, “. . . you will live and possess the land,” and gain reward in this world.


“Here you have a recipe for how to receive reward in this world,” Rav Zilberstein answered.  “If you exert yourself to perform mitzvos and invest supreme effort into them, Hashem will reward you both here and in the Next World.


“Because you have tremendous hardships, your exertion and effort to perform mitzvos are manifest in your continuing to do everything you have to do without regard for the hardships you are suffering.  There is no greater exertion than yissurim (trials & tribulations), and if you remain strong in your faith and continue to fulfill the mitzvos joyously despite what you are going through, you will merit reward in this world as well.”


Have a wonderful Shabbos!


Michael Winner