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Thought for the Day: Without Yiras HaShem You Have Nothing

Shlomo haMelech, wisest of all men, who is king in yerushalayim which is a city filled with wisdom, and son of Dovid who is also know for his wisdom, tells us, "One who loves money cannot be satisfied with money." (Koheles 5:9).  For those of us still listening on shabbos chol ha'mo'ed, this didn't seem to be astounding news.  We saw Howard Hughes die a lonely recluse with a huge bank account and no life.

Now look at Rashi (who's job is simply p'shat): "one who loves mitzvos is not satisfied with them."  Ok, now I am going, "WOW!".  Shlomo HaMelech is not talking about money at all.  He is rather telling us that that mida we see in those who love money actually applies to any acquisition; even mitzvos.  In fact, the medrash tells us the historical figure who exemplifies this mida is none other than Moshe Rabeinu himself.  Moshe Rabeinu wanted so desperately to enter Eretz Yisrael that he was able to compose 515 unique and compelling t'filos regarding his desire to enter the land.  Chazal (Sotah 14a) explain that Moshe Rabeinu's  entire desire to enter Eretz Yisrael was to perform the mitzvos that could only be performed there.

That's good right?  Use that mida to love mitzvos and become like Moshe Rabeinu.  One problem... the end of the pasuk is"gam zeh hevel" -- this is also vapor/futility/vanity.  Ok.. my "WOW!" just went to "HUH?!"  How does intense love of mitzvos turn into hevel?

Before answering, let's link this to another Chazal: A person does not die with half his desires fulfilled.  If he has 100, he wants 200; if he has 200, he wants 400.  We cannot possibly imagine, therefore, the intensity with which Moshe Rabeinu wanted to enter Eretz Yisrael.  Moreover, if he has davened even one more t'fila, he actually could have entered the land and performed all those mitzvos.  What stopped him?  "gam zeh hevel"  HaShem told him to stop davening, so he stopped.  If he hadn't stopped... "gam zeh hevel".  Yiras HaShem comes before everything; even that most intense desire for mitzvos.

And that is precisely how Shlomo haMelech concludes, "The final conclusion when all is understood and appreciated: Fear G-d and keep mitzvos, for that is the whole of a person."  Yiras HaShem, then keep mitzvos, that is a real person.

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