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Friday, 8 July 2016

Does Hashem really care if you keep kosher?

Daf Yomi Bava Kama 38

What is the most boring job in the world?  Classically, this award has gone to toll collectors.  Day in, day out, all they do is sit there collecting people’s small change.   But the truth is, it’s actually only as boring as you make it.  There are some tollbooth enthusiasts who greet each driver with a huge smile, asking them how they’re doing, and brightening up their day!

Really, the most boring job, I think, is the Queen’s Guard.  These folks stand outside Buckingham Palace for hours on end, motionless, expressionless, and forbidden even to ‘stand at ease’!  And yet, believe it or not, every year the Palace receives thousands of applications for the job!  Why would anyone in their right mind want such a boring job?

The prophet Habakkuk declared, “He arose and judged the land.  He saw and released the nations.”
Rav Yosef taught: What did He see?  He saw that the children of Noah were not observing the seven laws that they accepted upon themselves.  He therefore arose and released them from their obligation.
The Gemara asks: But if so, they won!  How could they sin and profit from it?

Some people think they’re doing G-d a favour by serving Him.   They’re really not that excited about being religious, but they do it because they think they’ll upset Heaven if they veer off the tracks.

Guess what.  It makes no difference to G-d whether or not you serve Him.  You want to do mitzvos, do them.  You don’t want to do mitzvos, don’t do them.  Enough people want rid of mitzvos, Rav Yosef teaches, Hashem says, ‘No worries.  Don’t bother.  I hereby release your of all responsibility.  You’re completely off the hook.’

You see, G-d doesn’t need you.  He’s the same G-d now as He was before He created the world.  What happens here does not affect Him one iota.   He gives us mitzvos and then offers us the choice whether or not to observe.  Yes, mitzvah means commandment.  But don’t think you’re doing Hashem any favours by performing his will.  You’re doing yourself the biggest favour.

Do you know why the Queen’s Guard gets thousands of applicants annually?  Not because it’s a thrilling job; but because you get to personally serve Her Majesty.  What an incredible opportunity!

And the same is true of mitzvos.  The Almighty provides us with the opportunity to personally serve Him.  To have a relationship with Him.  To get close to Him.  Who wouldn’t want that? 

When the nations of the world sought release from their obligations, they didn’t win.  They didn’t profit from their poor behaviour.  No, they lost out on an incredible opportunity.  Very sad, indeed.

Here’s the thing about serving in the Queen’s Guard.  Sometimes it can be frustrating and challenging.  Sometimes you stand their expressionless on the outside and filled with inner turmoil about your apparently dull professional choice.   But then you finish your shift, and you get invited to the open bar at the private club in Windsor Castle, where you get to party all night with the Queen and the corgis!  And everything changes.  It was all worth it. 

Hashem is totally cool with whatever choices you make in life.  He’ll love you either way.  He’s your Father.  But when you choose to buy into the relationship, the reward is out of this world – both in this world and the next!  May you recognize and capitalize on the incredible opportunity the Almighty offers us in life!  

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