The opening line of this week’s Parsha says that if the Jewish people keep the Commandments in the Torah we will receive Blessings. Yet, how can we be rewarded in this world for doing a mitzva? Surely the greatest reward in this world is considered worthless in the World to Come where we are given real reward for our mitzvos? With this in mind, why is HaShem promising those who keep the Torah many blessings?

Rabbi Dessler in the first volume of michtav m’eliyahu brings a Rambam who speaks about the reward for a mitzvah. He exemplifies the phrases in the Shema which suggest that those who keep His commandments will be blessed with plenty of crop and rain in its right time etc.

Rabbi Dessler concludes by saying that the “rewards” or “blessings” that one receives for keeping HaShem’s Torah are not the rewards for the actual Mitzva as such, but a means for that person to continue to follow the Torah .
To use a simple example, HaShem wants people to keep the Torah but people need to eat – so if people are learning and following the Torah, the rain will come in the right time and water the crops nicely so that people can spend less time in the fields and more time in the Beis Hamedrash. So we see that it is not a reward but a type of expense account.

A modern parable may clarify further:
A successful businessman who entertains his top clients in the best restaurants will be happy to send the bill for these meals to his employers because he knows that although the meal may have cost them $500, the deal he clenched is worth millions. However, if he stopped bringing in the deals to his employers they would not allow him to continue to eat in the top restaurants on their bill.

In the same way, as long as we are keeping HaShem’s Mitzvos, we get to live in a way that we can continue to do so in relative peace – it is these that are the blessings we are promised – which do not detract from one’s real reward in the World to Come (in fact, they allow us to continue to do more Mitzvos…the complete opposite of a Catch 22 situation!!)

As an aside, to demonstrate the greatness of the Chofetz Chaim zt”l the prolific Torah authority of the early 20th Century– it is said of him that because he was worried that he was not earning enough ‘points’ in shamayim to cover his expenses in this world he lived exceptionally simply; he didn’t have backs to his chairs and I have heard that he didn’t even purchase a full set of shass! With this in mind, perhaps we should be a bit more careful about whether we deserve that new car or mp3 player!!?!

Gut Shabbos!

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