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Monday, 30 January 2017

You deserve nothing

Daf Yomi Bava Basra 8

Kayin (Cain) and Hevel (Abel) were the first people born naturally into this world.  And so you can imagine the rivalry that existed between them.  Each one thought he was the ruler.  Each one thought he was the true heir to the planet.  One day, they both decided to bring offerings to Hashem.  Hevel, the shepherd, brought sheep.  Kayin, the farmer, brought crops.  But while G-d welcomed Hevel’s offering, He did not accept Kayin’s.  He was absolutely devastated. 
“I deserve better!” he cried out to Heaven.

Rebbe once opened his storehouse of food in a year of scarcity, proclaiming: Let those enter who have studied the Scripture, or the Mishnah, or the Gemara, or the Halacha, or the Aggada; there is no admission, however, for the ignorant.  Rabbi Yonasan ben Amram snuck in incognito and said, ‘Master, give me food.’ He said to him, ‘My son, have you learned the Scripture?’ He replied, ‘No.’ ‘Have you learnt the Mishnah?’ ‘No.’ ‘If so,’ he said, ‘then how can I give you food?’ He said to him, ‘Feed me as the dog and the raven are fed.’ [Rashi explains: Hashem takes pity on them.] So he gave him some food.  After he went away, Rebbe's conscience smote him and he said: Woe is me that I have given my bread to a man without learning!  Rabbi Shimon the son of Rebbe ventured to say to him: Perhaps it is Yonasan ben Amram your pupil, who all his life has made it a principle not to derive material benefit from the honour paid to the Torah.  Inquiries were made and it was found that it was so; whereupon Rebbe said: All may now enter.

Rabbi Yonasan ben Amram taught Rebbe an important lesson in life.  Yes, we are required to learn Torah.  Yes, we are required to do mitzvos.  But that’s not why Hashem provides for us.  He is our Father and loves us.  No matter what we do, He will always provide for us, just as He provides for all His creatures, even those bereft of good deeds.

The Almighty gave us Torah and mitzvos to allow us to connect with Him.  The more we connect with Him, the greater our merit.  But G-d loves us and cares for us no matter what.  Once Rebbe took this fundamental lesson to heart, he opened the storehouse to all.

Some people feel holier than others, because they’re a little more committed to Torah and mitzvos.  And therefore they must be more deserving.  Rabbi Yonasan teaches us that we are deserving of nothing.  Everything we receive in life is due to the abundant kindnesses of our Father in Heaven.  True, the more we learn Torah and perform mitzvos, the more we will appreciate His bounty, but if you were to stop and think for a moment about everything G-d does for you, you would realize that He has more than recompensed you for a lifetime of service to Him!

That’s what we intone three times a day in the Modim prayer. We thank Hashem, “for our lives which are committed into Your hand, for our souls which are entrusted to You, for Your miracles which are with us daily, and for Your continual wonders and beneficences.”  We could never thank Him enough for everything He does for us.  The little we have done, He has more than paid us back for over and over again.  Everything else is pure graciousness on His part.

The Almighty owes you nothing.  We deserve nothing.  May you forever be grateful for every breath of life and more He gives you constantly!