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Thought for the Day: Existence Is the Biggest Bracha of All

Continuing in his description of the Torah Jew, the Chacham tells the Khuzari (Ma'amar 3, 11-17) that the fully developed Torah Jew lives a life that is always  "עריב" -- pleasant/engaged/involved.  I find that word decidedly difficult to translate into English, but we say it at least thrice daily after shmone esrei: v'ar'va la'Shem minchas Yehuda v'Yerushalayim, ki'mei olam u'ch'shanim kadmonios -- HaShem should find pleasant/be interested in the mincha offering of Yehuda and Yerushalayim.  In any case, it does not mean pleasant in the sense of always running around with a silly grin on your face.  Rather, it means a life filled with meaning and importance, being engaged and interested every single moment.

How does he do that?  First, he looks around the world.  He observes and studies the incredible balance, structure, and inter-dependencies of the ecosystem.  Two examples he gives is that the fly is food for the spider and the rabbit for birds of prey.  (I am always particularly struck by the way g'dolei Yisroel look into the tiniest details to bring out the deepest insights.)  To ward off the yeitzer hara of "oh... the poor bunny!", the fully developed Torah Jew reminds himself of all the wisdom and goodness with which the Creator has imbued the world.  Then he looks at the spider: he has unique organs that produce the web material and has a built in program of how to construct a web.  The bird of prey has wings that enable him to swoop down and catch the running rabbit in his purpose built talons.  On the other hand, the fly is purpose built food for the spider, the rabbit for the bird.

What about the troubles that come into every life?  He reminds  himself that we -- individually and collectively -- have brought much of this trouble on ourselves; every difficulty to him is medicine that is improving his health for olam habah.  Moreover, he feels honored to have the responsibility and merit to show others the Righteousness of HaShem by his own reaction to the trouble that befall him.  When things look particularly bleak, he reminds himself of y'tzi'as mitzrayim.  Things could not have been more bleak then, and yet with barely any warning the entire situation went topsy turvey and the lowest slave went out with a high hand to see incredible miracles at the splitting of the sea and to received the Torah.  "Dayeinu" is not a once (twice) a year song; it is his mantra.

But really fixes all that in the mind and soul of the fully developed Torah Jew?  Brachos.  A plant never wants for anything, but it's life is pretty dull.  Animals and babies work a bit more and life a more interesting life.  The fully developed Torah Jew, though, takes each situation (everything he finds and everything that finds him) and uses it to recognize (again) the gift of existence.  "Sh'he'chiyanu" means that we don't "deserve" life; the starting point is non-existence; so we give thanks and recognition for life.  "Borei pri ha'eitz" -- we could get our nourishment from dirt (like the plants), but HaShem gave us wonderfully nourishing and tasty fruit.  And so on and so on.

You get out of life what you put in.  There is an infinite well of goodness in each moment; start drawing.


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