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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The Need to Have it All and then some


Megillah 11

The list of celebrities who end up committing suicide is heartbreaking.  They have everything in the world!  What would motivate them to take their own lives?

Certainly for some, the pressures of the public eye just get to them.  But for many, they’ve tried every experience in the world.  The only thing they have yet to try is the taste of death.  What makes it so tantalizing?

The Megillah states, “In those days when the king settled on his throne . . . in the third year of his reign.”  If he had just settled on his throne why does it say it was already his third year on the throne?

Rava answers: What is the meaning of “settled?”  His mind was settled.  Ahasuerus said, “Belshazzar calculated and erred.  I have calculated but I did not err.”

The Gemara explains that Belshazzar’s error was based on the prophecy of Jeremiah, “For when seventy years are complete in Babylonia, I shall remember you,”  implying that G-d would redeem the Jews from Babylonia and bring them home seventy years after their exile from Israel.

According to Belshazzar’s miscalculation, the seventy years had passed uneventfully, and so he said, “Now they certainly will no longer be redeemed.”   He brought out the stolen vessels from the Holy Temple and used them for his own needs.
Daniel then said to him, “You have exalted yourself above the Master of Heaven as they have brought the vessels of His house before you.”
It then says, “That very night, the Chaldean King Belshazzar was assassinated.”

A number of years later, Ahasuerus made a different calculation.  Once he saw that the seventy years had passed and the Jews were not redeemed, he said, “Now they certainly will no longer be redeemed.”    He brought out the stolen vessels from the Holy Temple and used them for his own needs.  Satan crashed the party and had Vashti killed.  

Why were Belshazzar and Ahasuerus so desperate to use the Temple vessels?  They had all the vessels in the world at their disposal, wasn’t that sufficient for their needs?

The answer lies in our incredible desire for what we can’t have.  The longer we can’t have something, the more we desire it.  In fact, science has shown that the more one longs for the unattainable, dopamine levels in the brain increase and increase, until our brain practically explodes.

The best way to avoid being caught in the terrifying net of desire is to concentrate on permissible things.  Think about all the wonderful blessings the Almighty has bestowed upon you.  Think of everything He has given you.

And then when you think about what you do have and is attainable, take a step back and realize that you don’t even need all of that.   If you indulge in everything you can lay your hands on, you will always want more.  Our Sages tell us that ‘one who has 100 wants 200.’  But if you indulge in a little less than what you could, then you will feel satisfied with what you have without desiring the forbidden.


Thank G-d constantly for everything He has given you.  And then indulge in just a little less than you have.  It will make a world of difference.