This week’s Torah reading, Parshas Re’eh, begins with the following verses: “Behold I gave before you today a blessing and a curse. The blessing, if you listen to the commandments of your God, that I am commanding you to do today. And the curses, if you do not listen to the commandments of your God.”
God is hereby instructing us to do good so that we should enjoy a blessed life. The Medrash (Devarim Rabboh, 4:5) adds an interesting anecdote and says, “God says, ‘Listen to Me, for there is no one who listens to Me and loses out [for doing so].'” This is a most fascinating concept. Not only will we reap reward in the Next World for adhering to the Torah and earn a blessed life in this world, but we also won’t lose out on any benefit this world has to offer by curbing our own desires and following the word of God!
This concept is similarly expressed in a passage in the Talmud (Brachos 6b) which says that God inquires about one who usually attends the synagogue and fails to come one day. If the reason he didn’t come was because he had some business matter to attend to, he has gone into darkness, for he should have relied on God. Where does relying on God come in? It would seem more suitable to simply say that he should have overcome his temptations and do what is right.
The Chofetz Chaim (at the end of Shmiras Halashon) explains that this person should have relied on God to ultimately provide him with everything he is destined to get and realize that he will not lose out by going to the synagogue as he should. He may not get that exact deal, but God has plenty of ways to make it up to him.
Avrohom had decided it was time to move. Although he had recently renewed his lease on his apartment, circumstances did not allow him to remain in his present residence. To his delight, a suitable home had just hit the rental market. It was in a very good location and the price was very reasonable. According to his current lease agreement, he would have to forfeit half of his security deposit for breaking the lease, but it was all worth it. He gave the management advance notice as the lease agreement dictated, and was preparing to move. The question was, what was he to do about the last month’s rent? On the one hand, he was still obligated to pay the full month’s rent. On the other hand, his friends had warned him that he surely would not see a penny back from his deposit. Consequently, they advised him to pay only half of the month’s rent, keeping the other half in lieu of half the security deposit which the landlord owed him. Avrohom debated back and forth, until he reached a conclusion. He was going to carry out his responsibility and pay the full month’s rent, and certainly, he will not lose out by doing the right thing.
After moving, he contacted the management of his previous apartment to find out when he would have his security deposit refunded. He was in for a surprise. Not only was he told that he would he not receive his deposit back, the secretary informed him that he would continue to be charged rent until a new tenant moved into the unit! Avrohom was incensed by the injustice. This clearly violated the terms in the lease agreement. He sent a letter to the manager himself to present his argument. The manager responded by saying that “out of their graciousness” they will not continue to charge him rent, however, the deposit would not be refunded. Avrohom felt uneasy about his loss, it seemed as if his friends were correct in their advice and he shouldn’t have paid the full month’s rent in the first place. Nevertheless, he was insistent that he did the right thing and was convinced that God would make it up for him some way.
One fine morning, two weeks later, Avrohom received a call from the same secretary of the management. The woman on the line informed him nonchalantly, that since his old apartment was found to be in good condition, a check in the amount of the full security deposit was issued to him and ready to be picked up; as if no one had ever thought otherwise.
This is a very powerful concept to keep in mind when we are faced with a moral dilemma (as mentioned by the Steipler, see Karyana De’igrasa Vol. 1 letter 15). When we come to the realization that the right choice will not just benefit us in the World to Come, but that even in this world we will not lose out, it makes it a lot easier to make the right choices in life. We may not see it happen right away, but we must know that God will ultimately make it up to us.
Parshas Re’eh by Rabbi Yitzchok Aryeh Strimber