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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

May G-d grant you Facetime!

Daf Yomi Kesubos 84

My friend, Josh, has incredible fear of Heaven.  Fear of Heaven is meant to be a positive experience whereby one lives a life infused with Divine energy.  Sinning stops the flow of energy and that’s why we are fearful – who would want to be cut off from their energy source?

But Josh thinks that fear of Heaven means that G-d is out to get him.  Every time he fails to do a mitzvah properly, he begins to imagine his life caving in on him as G-d’s wrath is poured out upon him.  Instead of living a joyful life, he has twisted his religion to become a source of constant stress and worry. 

But maybe he’s right, after all.  Doesn’t the Torah say that G-d will reward us when we do mitzvos and punish us when we sin? 

The Mishnah states: One who dies leaving a widow, a creditor and child-heirs, and a deposit or loan in the hands of others, Rabbi Tarfon says: The money should be given to the weakest party (i.e. the widow or creditor).  Rabbi Akiva says: We may not show mercy in judgment!  Rather, the money must be given to the heirs. 

When a mortal court shows mercy in a civil case, favouring the weaker party, they in effect become Robin Hoods, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.  As much as the judge’s heart may be bleeding for this poor widow, he has no right to take money away from the heirs, money that rightfully belongs to them.

While that’s true for a mortal court, the good news is that the Heavenly court may indeed show mercy in judgment.  Why?  Because G-d has more than enough to go around.  He has an unlimited supply of abundant prosperity, health and success for all His children.  When He gives of His bounty to one child, He has not depleted His supply; He still has loads more to give His other children!

If G-d were to employ His attribute of justice in our lives, most of us would not fare very well.  Instead, He takes His attribute of mercy and allows it to trump the attribute of justice and be gracious towards us.  There’s no need to live in constant fear of G-d’s wrath – if He indeed treated us exactly as we deserved, we’d all be in trouble.  He doesn’t; He treats us all with abundant lovingkindness.  That doesn’t mean we should take advantage of His graciousness and act disdainfully towards Heaven; rather, it means you can count on G-d to show you mercy and compassion for your mistakes in life.

In the priestly blessing, we ask G-d to shine His face towards us and be gracious to us, to turn His face to us and grant us peace.  To use a current expression, we’re asking G-d for Facetime.  And as our Father in Heaven, He will give you as much Facetime as you are prepared to give Him.  May you merit shining your face towards G-d and granting Him abundant Facetime, so that he too may be gracious and merciful to you and grant you abundant Facetime!