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Sunday, 2 August 2015

No spiritual effort ever goes unrewarded

Daf Yomi Nedarim 69

Matisyahu was once known as the “Chassidic Reggae Superstar.”  Here was a man who inspired millions of Jewish youth with his uncanny ability to combine fame and spirituality.  Until one day when he decided he’d had enough of religion.  Off came the beard and in no time at all, his commitment to his marriage and his Judaism followed.   His followers were devastated.  But as devastated as they were, you can imagine how disappointed his rabbi must have been.  Having met him at as a college freshman, he had nurtured his spirituality, investing no end of time and effort.

And over the years, that time and effort paid off handsomely.  He went on to learn in yeshiva, married to a nice frum girl and had sweet yiddisher kinderlach.   And to watch him on stage was just pure nachas – Jewish kids now had a persona that they could aspire to emulate.  What Matisyahu accomplished for Jewish pride and commitment, the greatest rabbis could not begin to achieve.  But then he ultimately dropped it all.  Now what?  Were all those years of investment down the drain?  Everything for naught?

Rava asked: Once you’ve confirmed a vow, can you cancel it or not?
The Rosh explains: If a husband confirmed his wife’s vow and then petitioned the sage, can he subsequently annul the vow?

When it comes to certain things in life, once you’ve made the ‘confirmation,’ you can no longer effect a ‘cancellation’ or ‘annulment’ of your efforts.  That’s the beauty of spiritual investments over material investments.  If you invest time and effort into a business and it eventually goes broke, you don’t get any points for trying.  It’s sad, and you simply need to move on knowing that the Almighty will bless you materially in the right time.

In contrast, spiritual efforts always reap rewards, no matter the eventual outcome.  You can’t take back all those moments of spiritual inspiration Matisyahu engendered in these young Jews.  Who knows how they decided to live their lives as a result of seeing him there with his beard and yarmulke? 

And just because his Judaism went south, it doesn’t mean theirs will follow suit.   Even if they simply chose to do something Jewish the next day after attending a concert, and nothing more, you can never annul that moment of inspiration and action!  Not to mention his own biological children who continue to be brought up as committed Jews by his dedicated ex-wife – those ‘fruits’ will, please G-d, continue for generations to come!  Once you’ve made a spiritual ‘confirmation,’ you can no longer effect a ‘cancellation!’

Have you made spiritual investments that appeared to go awry?  Were you disappointed that all your hard work and dedication were for naught?  Don’t be discouraged.  Every effort you make for spirituality reaps incredible reward! 

You may have invested hours and hours, days and days into prayers for a loved one.  In the here and now, it appears that your prayers weren’t answered.  But G-d doesn’t remain a debtor – He always answers prayer.  Sometimes it takes years or even generations; but all your efforts and investment will certainly see the light of day in due course, albeit not always in ways you anticipated or expected.  The act of prayer itself is a mitzvah – and that mitzvah begets spiritual compensation.

You may have invested hours and hours, days and days into the spiritual welfare of a friend or perhaps even your own child.  In the here and now, it appears that your investment failed to pay off.  Do not despair!  Every investment of spirituality comes to fruition in the right time, sometimes in ways we do not see or could even imagine!  Once you’ve made the ‘confirmation,’ you cannot effect a ‘cancellation!’

Spiritual investment is completely unlike material investment.  True, selfless, spiritual dedication always reaps results.  May you never get discouraged and forever continue to invest in your Heavenly pursuits, knowing that no spiritual effort ever goes unrewarded!  


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