Skip to main content

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.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…