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Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Do you like surprises?

Daf Yomi Kesubos 15

Drive past any Tim Hortons in Canada and you are guaranteed to see a long line of cars waiting to be served.  I could never fathom why anyone would want to wait so long for a cup of coffee when you can whiz straight through the Starbucks drive-thru. 

But one day my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to try Tim Hortons and see what all the fuss was about.  Not wanting to die from caffeine-withdrawal while I was waiting, I whizzed through my regular watering hole and with my Starbucks cup in hand, I joined the Tim Hortons line.

Three hours later, I arrived at the window. 
‘I’ll have a double-double, please’ (that’s Canadian for ‘cup of coffee,’ which incidentally is much easier to learn than figuring out what a ‘skinny grande macchiato espressappuccino’ is).
‘There you go,’ said the barista as he handed me my coffee.
‘How much will that be?’ I asked.
‘Oh, no need to pay, the lady in the car in front of you already paid for your cup.’ 

I was flabbergasted at the generosity of a total stranger.  Immediately, of course, I handed a ten dollar bill to the barista and told him I was paying for the person in the car behind me. 

The Torah states, “If there should be a man who despises his fellow and ambushes him and rises against him and smites him and he dies . . . you shall show him no pity.”
Rabbi Shimon says: The word ‘ambush’ teaches that he is not guilty unless he intended to murder.

While one is not guilty unless he intended to do something wrong, the good news is that when it comes to doing the right thing, you are rewarded even if you had no intention to do the mitzvah!  You may have brightened up someone’s day just by smiling and you’ve unintentionally performed a mitzvah for which you’ll be rewarded in this world and the next!

But if intent is derived from the idea of ambush, then imagine the reward you could expect to receive for ambushing somebody with a good deed!   Everybody loves a good surprise.  And if His children get pleasure from being surprised, do you know how much pleasure G-d gets? 

There are loads of ways throughout the day you can ambush people with acts of kindness.  Maybe it’s the cup of coffee you purchase for the next customer.  Maybe it’s the toll charge you pay for the car behind you.  Maybe it’s the anonymous envelope you drop in the mailbox of the single mother.  Maybe it’s the out-of-the-blue Shabbos invitation you extend to a widow.

Surprise someone today!  There’s no greater mitzvah than one performed with the intent to please another!  And guess what?  You’ll make your Father in Heaven very happy too!  May you merit a life full of surprises!

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