Punctual Payment

Rabbi Moishe Schnerb

Associate Rov of Beis Hamedrash Keter Torah

I am Hashem your G-d who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of slavery.

(Exodus 20:2)

אָנֹכִי ה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִיךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים.

(שמות כ:ב)

There is a Midrash1 that says that all the reward that we receive in this world is only because of our Emunah, our belief in the existence of Hashem. This seems to be a very strange statement. While undoubtedly the acknowledgment of the existence of Hashem, the omnipotence of Hashem and the involvement of Hashem in every aspect of our lives is an incredibly important value, what about all the other commandments we have been given and have fulfilled religiously, what happened to all the reward for that????

The answer would seem to be, that even though it does seem unusual, we are not rewarded for performance of Mitzvot in this world, as the Gemara2 states שכר מצוה בהאי עלמא ליכא. (There is no reward for Mitzvot in this world). Still, surely there is an obligation that we should be rewarded for in this world, since there is a Halacha that a worker needs to be paid within 12 hours of having finished the job?3 If we are truly servants of Hashem, then we should be rewarded straightaway for all of the Mitzvot that we do? The answer is that the Halacha also states that if the boss hired workers through a third-party he is not obligated to pay right away since he could claim that the deal was made between the workers and the third-party and did not involve him.4

All the Mitzvot we observe were actually transmitted to us by Moshe Rabbeinu. Therefore Hashem can claim that he doesn’t owe us reward right away since a third-party was involved. However, the first two of the 10 statements, the belief in Hashem and the injunction against having other gods was said to us by G-d Himself. For that we must be rewarded timeously. It follows then that every time we express in thought or deed our conviction of the role that Hashem plays in any situation that we find ourselves in, we earn tremendous rewards which we can benefit from right here and now. Have a wonderful Yomtov.

1. Midrash, Mechilta d'Rabbi Yishmael 14:31

2. Talmud, Kiddushin 39b; Talmud, Chullin 142a

3. Rambam, Hilchot Schirut 11:2; Shulchan Aruch, C.M. 339:2-4

4. Rambam, Hilchot Schirut 11:4; Shulchan Aruch, C.M. 339:7-10

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