As you know, I spent Purim in Lakewood on a (boruch Hashem successful) fundraising mission for the school. I was amazed, not only at the outpouring of support for a small school in Rhode Island, but frankly in general at the amount of giving that takes place in the Lakewood community over the course of Purim. I am reminded of a story about a fellow who was showered with financial success. On Rosh Hashanah he davened in the following (mistaken) way: He said, “Dear G-d, this year was a most successful year for me. Please do not mix in – let me continue with my success,” obviously not realizing that his success in business came directly from Hashem.
Rabbi Label Lam discusses the lessons Shabbos teaches us as they pertain to our daily lives. Enjoy!
- The Children of Israel shall keep the Shabbos, to make the Shabbos an eternal covenant for their generations. Between Me and the Children of Israel it is a sign forever that in a six-day period Hashem made heaven and earth and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed. (Shemos 31:16–17)
To make the Shabbos: Isn’t the mitzvah of Shabbos accomplished by sitting and not doing, and refraining from creative activity? If so, what is the meaning of the expression “to make the Shabbos”? Rabbi Elozor Ben Parta says: All who properly keep the Shabbos are considered as if they made the Shabbos. (Mechilta)
“I make more money when I am asleep than when I am awake.” (Warren Buffet)
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” (Conventional wisdom)
How is it that one is considered to have made something by merely refraining from destroying it? Why is the subject of Shabbos an immediate prelude to the sin of the Golden Calf?
It is troublesome to consider how any part of the Jewish People was involved with an idolatrous act only forty days after the presentation of the Ten Commandments. They had just heard the declaration: “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Just forty-three days prior to that, the sea had split, and even the smallest nursing child, we are told, was able to lift his head, point, and say, “This is my G-d and I will glorify Him.” How could the impact of such grandiose events have evaporated from the psyche of a people so quickly?
Reb Chaim Shmuelevitz z”tl explains that the prophetic encounters that the entire nation of Israel experienced at that time was akin to a gift. There is a difference of valuation when something is earned with years of hard work and self-sacrifice and when something is granted to a person with minimal effort. Things that come to us with ease are more likely to be lost with ease.
Our Sages tell us that the creation of the cure always predates the introduction of the disease. In that spirit we can understand, perhaps, why the flag of Shabbos is waved before the account of the Golden Calf. The effort that allows one to maintain a gift is gained by the hard work of appreciation, just as the sweat equity invested prior to earning something helps secure its value in the mind of the recipient.
The job for all time then, to remedy that error, is to practice receiving a great and holy gift. As with a priceless work of art, we are well advised to protect its integrity. Don’t disturb it! Don’t fix it! Let it be! Appreciate it! We are asked to stand back and behold the awe and majesty of the day of Shabbos! It comes already assembled.
Sure, we can enhance Shabbos with some fine foods and fresh garments, but the biggest benefit is to be gained by not disturbing its already pristine state of purity! In that way Shabbos may be seen as a cure for the root problem of the Golden Calf.
This powerful lesson was strengthened for me upon witnessing the generosity and goodness of our donors and friends in Lakewood and other communities that welcome us and support us annually. The level of charitable giving shows that our dedicated supporters understand that their success comes straight from Hashem and that “the more they give, the more they get.”
We can all learn to appreciate that although we put great effort into our work, ultimately all our success in business and in life is a gift from Hashem, and how we use our success is often a prelude to future success.
I would like to congratulate Mrs. Weiner, Rabbi Lapin, and the entire staff for bringing Purim to life with all of the PHDS/NEAT activities, and a special thank you to Mrs. Scheinerman for organizing the NEAT Chagigah & to the Chagigah heads (see newsletter article).
Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman