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Friday, 3 April 2015

Live excessively!

Daf Yomi Kesubos 58

Between Pesach and Rosh Hashanah, it is customary to read Ethics of the Fathers on Shabbos afternoon.   Before each chapter, we recite a Talmudic teaching that declares, “All Israel have a share in the World to Come, as it says: Your nation is all righteous; they shall inherit the land forever, the creation of my planting, the work of My hands, in which I take pride.”

Our Sages explain that the World to Come in this context refers to the era of the Resurrection.  But if everyone is going to end up rising from the dead and being rewarded in the messianic era, why bother being religious?  We’re all going to end up in the same place no matter how you live your life!

The Mishnah states: If a man consecrates his wife’s primary earnings to charity, she may continue to work and consume.  The excess earnings, however, Rabbi Meir says, are consecrated.  Rabbi Yochanan Hasandlar says they remain unconsecrated.

The Gemara asks: According to Rabbi Meir, when do they become consecrated?
Rav and Shmuel both say: The excess becomes consecrated after her passing.
Rabbi Ada bar Ahava says: The excess is consecrated even during her lifetime.

After we pass from this world into Heaven, every Jewish person will experience an excess that is consecrated for all eternity: excess joy, excess happiness, excess abundance, excess prosperity.  In the spiritual realm, there is no shortage of reward.  And even with regards to those who appear to work contrary to G-d’s will in this world, our Sages tell us that they are “filled with mitzvos like a pomegranate (is filled with seeds)!” 

But why wait to consecrate the excess until after you die?  Why not consecrate the excess even during your lifetime?  This world is tough, life is full of challenges: from health concerns to matters of parnassah (livelihood) to dealing with childrearing, life isn’t easy.  When you place your life into the Almighty’s hands, everything falls into place.  It won’t necessarily change things – some things will, others won’t – but you will live a life knowing that He is in control and everything is happening according to His will.

You make that switch and suddenly your stress levels plummet. Why worry, when you know that G-d has a plan and if you maintain your faith and commitment, everything will be okay?   That’s the difference between those who live a committed life versus “all Israel”.  All Israel may have a share in the World to Come – everyone will enjoy the excesses of the Afterlife – but only those who are committed to Him during their lifetime will enjoy the excess in this world: excess joy, excess happiness, excess prosperity, knowing that whatever is happening has been ordained by G-d!  That knowledge creates the ultimate happiness, there is no greater excess achievable!  All the fancy cars, houses, and vacations in the world cannot achieve that joy; on the contrary, Ethics of the Fathers warns “more possessions equals more worries”!  When you know that you have exactly the right amount that G-d wants you to have, you couldn’t be happier!


The Almighty is ready to open up His storehouse to bless you with excess abundance and prosperity!  Do you want it now or only later?  May you merit living with excess both in this world and in the next!