Ten weeks ago, the wife of one of the rabbeim in my yeshiva in Yerushaliyim had a sudden heart attack and was left in a coma-like state. Naturally, it's been a living hell for her husband. Anybody who knows them, knows that they are a couple that have a very close bond with each other.
Unfortunately, there is not much for many of us to do. Thankfully, all his children are grown up, and are able to take care of themselves and also take turns at the hospital. However, an idea came up and I asked him if he wanted to, he can come up north and I would rent a car and take him to see "Rebbe Dovid," the grandson of the Baba Sali, who has a very good "track record" with brachos. He readily accepted, and this Monday, I picked him up at the train station in Nahariya. We went to Rebbe Dovid, both received brachos (I'm certainly not going to waste such an opportunity), drove to Meron to daven mincha (of course we spiritually prepared ourselves by eating shwarma, the most spiritual food in this world), followed by the old cemetery in Tzvat, where we davened at the graves of the Beis Yosef (author of the Shulchan Oruch) and the Arizal (I'll try to post a photo I took at the end of the Dvar Torah).
To hear such pain in a person is very difficult to do. Especially somebody who you have an ongoing relationship with and who has helped you in the past. The first words he told me when I picked him up from the train was, "I never knew what a Bal Yisurim (a person who suffers) was until now." And I know that he's been through a lot before. But to have, literally, your second half, lying on a bed in such a state, not knowing what will be? It's something I cannot, nor really want to, imagine.
We should not know of such things.
So, if we can learn in the merit of Chaya Ariella bas Fanny Tzipporah, it would greatly be appreciated.
"Man is born to toil" (Job 5:7).
Rav Yaakov Meir Schecter, as we quoted last week, wrote on the importance of having the correct view in life. Most people, when asked why they work so hard to make money, will reply so that when they are older (or even sooner) they will have enough to retire and to relax for the rest of their lives.
The Torah view takes the opposite approach. We don't work to rest, we rest to work.
Right in the beginning of the Torah we are taught that we have six days to work and one day to rest. And that day is a "recharger," for the upcoming week. It's not the "end all be all."
The Midrash says that when Avraham was living in Mesopotamia, he saw the people relaxing, and he asked "Let my portion not be in this land" and when he arrived In Eretz Yisroel and saw the people working the land, he asked, "Let my portion be in this land."
However, as Jews, our work isn't the "work" of the rest of the world. Hashem did not put me on Earth to write code for programs. He did not put my friend on the planet in order to "better it" by installing and fixing electrical systems. That's not the primary function of the Jew. Our primary work is obviously to toil in Torah and mitzvos.
Our work, which we make money from, is just that, it allows us to live in this world.
However, it does not necessarily mean that it's not holy. Even our work can be holy and we can earn plenty of merit with it. When my friend rushes shortly before Shabbos to fix somebody's electric outage, he's doing a great mitzvah of chessed and of Shabbos for another family. A doctor who helps heal people, obviously, it's a great mitzvah. Even a programmer, who's programs are used by others can gain merit, by simply being honest in his work.
Even beyond that, you have another level that one can turn "regular work" into holy work.
Simply ask yourself: why are you working? If you're working to save money to retire early and relax, then it seems that there's no mitzvah involved. If you're working in order that you can learn the hour or so that you have available, or in order to send your children to school to receive a proper Jewish education, or in order to give out the money you make to tzedakah, then you are making your "regular work," "holy work."
If a mother is a "stay-at-home" mother, she is to receive tons of merit in raising her children according to the Torah. Unfortunately, many might look down on such women, but what is their basis for such an attitude? Certainly not in the Torah.
By simply recalibrating our attitudes towards the work we do, we can turn a daily eight-hour mundane period, in to an eight-hour period where we actually receive reward.
I remember when I was living in Chicago, somebody once spoke on this concept. He said that if a person (is able to and) learns Torah in the morning before work and learns in the evening after work, on a constant basis, using those time periods properly, he can "demand" from Hashem reward for the period in between which he was working. Why? He is showing Hashem that he WANTS to toil in Torah throughout the day, however, he needs to support his family, so he has no choice but to "take a break" to do so. If he did not need to, he would of course use even THAT time to sit and learn!
Something to think about, no?
Have a wonderful Shabbos!