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Sunday, 8 March 2015

May your reward accrue forever!

Daf Yomi Kesubos 34

Professor Ron Bercov was a great Jewish Edmontonian who passed on last year.  He was an incredible leader who managed to build institutions, maintain peace between various factions, and still maintain a low profile.  For many years, he was the treasurer of the shul and the Jewish Seniors’ Centre, along with a myriad other organizations in the Jewish and general communities. 

He always shunned the limelight, preferring to work behind the scenes.  But you always knew that after all the discussion around the table, when Ron offered his opinion, it would be the sage recommendation that was ultimately adopted.  When the doctors informed him that, despite his relatively young age, he had only a few months left to live, he did not get angry at G-d.  Instead, he went about putting all his affairs and wishes in order, including an extremely generous donation to Beth Israel Synagogue.

We felt that given the size of the donation, it would only be appropriate to name something substantial for him.  But we knew that he had always avoided ‘kavod’ (honour) and wondered how he would take our gesture.  We approached him and asked if we could name our multipurpose room in his honour.  He said he would think about it.  We didn’t hear back from him for the next few months.   

Finally, he agreed that the room should be named ‘The Ron Bercov Torah Learning Centre.’  A few days later, he passed on.  Following the consecration and stone-setting, we all returned to the shul and officially unveiled the room in his honour and memory.  And ever since and for all time to come, all the merit of the Torah learning in that room will accrue to his neshama. 

 The Beraisa taught: If one stole a condemned ox [that was to be put to death for murder] and slaughtered it, he still pays the penalty of four-five times, according to Rabbi Meir.
The Gemara asks: But it does not belong to anyone?
Rashi explains: Since it has become a forbidden item, it no longer belongs to the owner.
Rabbah answers: With what case are we dealing?  One such as where the owner gave it to someone to watch over and it committed the murder and was found guilty in the house of the watchman.  Then the thief stole it from the watchman’s house.  Rabbi Meir holds the view of Rabbi Shimon, who says ‘something that causes monetary benefit is just like money.’ 
Rashi explains: Even though the ox now has no monetary value, it causes a monetary benefit, since in its absence, the watchmen must replace it with an actual ox. 

If the mere causation of material benefit may be considered material benefit, then certainly that is true of the causation of spiritual benefit!   When you cause another person to grow spiritually, not only do they gain merit, but the merit of their actions simultaneously accrues to you!

R. Elazar teaches: He who causes others to do good is greater than the doer, as it states in Isaiah, “The work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quiet and confidence for ever.”  When you do a mitzvah, you receive reward for its performance, but when you cause others to do good, you receive reward both for the causing and the performing! 

What’s more, while your own mitzvah performance ceases the day you die, the reward you get for causing others to do good can continue to accrue forever!  Just think of the people who built our shul: Bill and Joe Lutsky, Hersh Bookhalter, Joe Shoctor, Ron Bercov, and others.   Every time we daven or learn Torah in the shul, their souls continue to accrue merit! 

Go out and encourage others to do mitzvos.  Go out and teach others Torah.  May you merit eternal reward in this world and the next for all your Torah and mitzvos and all those you inspire and enable!

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