Listening Equals Blessing
[Editor’s note: As a memory of my beloved brother Shaya, I would like to continue sending out his pearls of wisdom that he has shared with all of you in the past. For some of you this may ring a bell and for others it may appear to be totally new. May the learning of Shaya’s Divrei Torah inspire us to change our ways and thereby give an Aliya to the neshama of our dear beloved Shaya whom we miss so much.]
This week’s Parsha begins by telling us that Hashem places before us the opportunity to receive a blessing or curse depending upon whether we keep the Mitzvos. However, upon closer reading, the verses seem peculiar. Although the Torah says in regard to the curses ‘and the curses, IF you don’t listen….,’ by the blessing it says ‘the blessing that you listen…’ It doesn’t say you’ll get blessings IF you listen. This seems to imply that the listening to the Mitzvos is itself a blessing. What does that mean?
The Mishna in Avos, after contrasting the great Midos of Avraham and the poor Midos of Billam, tells us that if we follow in the ways of Avraham, ‘we will enjoy the fruit of our good deeds in this world and inherit the world to come.’ What does this mean?
Some people think that if you live an immoral life and do what you want with no rules and boundaries, then although you will lose out in the world to come, you will at least enjoy this world. The truth is that such a person will not enjoy this world either. He will live a meaningless life, and he will fall prey to his bad Midos. His jealousy and lusts will control him, never allowing him to be satisfied with what he has. Whereas a person with good Midos who strives to do the will of Hashem, although he or she may be tested and go through some difficult stages of life, in the long run he or she will enjoy even this world much more than someone with bad Midos. Hence, the Mishna says that one with good Midos enjoys both worlds, whereas the one with bad Midos has nothing in either world.
Leaving Yiddishkeit is like a leaf falling off a tree. It flutters around for a little bit, but soon afterwards it is shriveled and withered on the ground with no nourishment and vitality. As the Pasuk states, the Torah is a TREE of life for those who HOLD onto it!
I suggest that is what our Pasuk is alluding to as well. It is telling us that besides the reward that we will get IF we listen to Him, the listening to Him is itself a blessing! Authentic Avodas Hashem keeps us happy, healthy, and balanced spiritually and emotionally.
Although we strive to serve Hashem altruistically, let us also keep these thoughts in mind to give us chizuk when times are tough and when we feel overwhelmed and pressured to give in to the Yetzer Hara; that by keeping the Torah and it’s commandments we will live a much happier and healthier life emotionally and spiritually.