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Thursday, 2 October 2014

Do You Feel Rejected by G-d?


Daf Yomi Chagigah 24

For years I had been talking to Mo about closing his restaurant on Shabbos.  I assured him that not only would he not lose money, but the Almighty would bless him with even greater business throughout the other six days of the week.  Finally he agreed.

A few weeks later he came to see me. 
“So how’s business?” I inquired with a huge smile.
“Rabbi, this isn’t working,” Mo said.  “Not only have I not seen an increase in business.  Not only am I losing my Shabbos business, which was my best day.  But to top it all off, I’ve started losing business the rest of the week.   When I ask my regulars where they’ve been, they tell me that they came and I was shut and so they’ve found elsewhere to eat!  Rabbi, I give up.  I made the effort, but G-d rejected it.”

The Mishnah states: Tithe produce is stricter than sacrificial produce in that in Judea, the regular folk were trusted regarding the purity of sacrificial wine and oil throughout the year.  And during the season of wine-pressing and olive-pressing, they were also trusted regarding the purity of tithe produce.  

If the wine and oil-pressing season passed and they brought the learned cohen a barrel of tithe wine, he should not accept it from him.  Rather, he should leave it until the next wine-pressing season and at that point give it to the cohen.  

What’s going on here?  Is the food kosher or not?  If it is okay, then the cohen should eat it immediately!   And if it’s not okay, then why may he accept it next season?  The Mishnah is teaching us an important lesson:  Just because we get rejected once, it doesn’t mean that G-d is rejecting us forever.  Sometimes we have to just keep our faithfulness to G-d and try again later.

Think of the great Joseph, the most righteous of Jacob’s children.  He was sold into slavery by his brothers.  He could very easily have said, ‘I tried serving G-d but he rejected me.  I’m done.’  Instead, he persevered.  He was a model of righteousness in the depraved land of Egypt.  And he was just beginning to rebuild his reputation and reestablish himself when he was falsely accused of sexual harassment and thrown into the dungeon.  Again, he might have looked at his sorry situation and decided, ‘G-d has rejected my efforts.’  But he didn’t.  He continued to serve the Almighty faithfully until one day G-d takes him out of prison and makes him the viceroy of Egypt.

Joseph had ample opportunity and reason to give up.  But he didn’t.  He refused to succumb to the little voice inside that was telling him G-d had rejected him.   Because he knew that G-d never rejects us.  Sometimes, we just need to be patient till it’s the right time for G-d to fulfill our great destiny.  Had the brothers not sold him into slavery; had he not been falsely accused and thrown into the dungeon; had he given it all up anywhere along the line after years of misery and feelings of rejection – he would never have become the great leader of the region and the Children of Israel that he became.

Unfortunately, we give up too easily.  ‘I tried closing the restaurant for a few Shabboses and it didn’t work.’  Seriously?!  Joseph persevered through over two decades of rejection until G-d showed him His plan!  The Almighty never rejects us; sadly we often reject Him because we lack patience.

Sometimes you try to commit yourself to G-d and don’t see the fruits of your efforts right away.  You give him your psychological, physical, and financial tithes and then feel rejected when He doesn’t respond in kind immediately.   Don’t give up!  Maybe the season just isn’t ripe. 

But, guaranteed, when your time comes, if you have persevered in your faithfulness, not only will He accept your tithes you will be abundantly rewarded for your perseverance, effort, and patience.  He knows the right schedule and He wants to reward you when the time is ripe to maximize your potential!  Just have a little faith and never let go of it!