Today’s Life Yomi is dedicated in memory of Binyamin ben Moshe z”l Morris by his daughter, Eve Friedman. May the neshama have an aliya and be a good advocate in the Heavenly court for the family and all of klal Yisroel.
Rabbi Steven Weil, one of the most successful fundraisers in the country, quips that his old man expected that by now he would be writing major cheques to tzedakah, not asking for them.
We begin our lives as complete takers. A baby cries and mommy nurses her. A toddler kvetches and daddy responds. A child needs and mommy gives. A teenager asks and parents provide.
But as we become adults, the hope is that we take less and less and start contributing more and more. When we marry, we give unconditionally to our spouse. Bearing and rearing children is a complete act of selfless giving, as we invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into their upbringing with no expectation of receiving anything in return. And ultimately, we must become contributors to our communities and the world.
Is taking from others ever a good thing?
The Book of Job states, “For He says to the snow: Be to the ground as showers of rain and showers of the rain of His strength.” Why are five rains mentioned in connection with snow?
Rava taught: Snow is five times as good for the mountains as rain is for the ground.
What is the purpose of rain on the ground? The ground is nourished by the rain and with its help is able to bring forth vegetation.
Snow on the mountaintop serves to compact the earth thereby decreasing erosion. When the snow finally melts, it carries with it minerals to the land and lakes below. Hence, the beautiful colours you see in lakes surrounded by mountains, such as Lake Louise in Alberta.
Just like the rain brings out the best in the ground and foments its identity as a source of nourishment, so too snow brings out the best in the mountain – its rich minerals – allowing it to become a source of nourishment to the rest of the earth. What makes snow five times as powerful as rain is that it is higher up the proverbial food chain. The earth and lakes need not only the rain from the sky above, but also the minerals from the mountains above. Thus, the mountains are even greater providers of bounty than the earth!
As we strive to nourish others in this world, our goal is to contribute as much as we can. We don’t want to be takers; we want to be complete givers. When is taking a good thing? Only when it brings out the best in us.
For example, our Sages teach that one who raises funds for tzedakah is even greater than the ones who are giving the money. Fundraising takes incredible dedication to the cause. But when you do so, you are using the snow to release your minerals!
Similarly, when it comes to teaching – your job in this world is to teach as much Torah to as many people as you can. But learning from others brings out the best in you and makes you a much more effective teacher. As Rabbi Chanina would say, “I have learned much from my teachers, even more from my colleagues, but most of all from my students!”
You were created to contribute as much as possible to the world. The more you give the better you have fulfilled your mission on earth. Give as much as you can and only take what you need to bring out the best in you!