Rabbi A. Vigler
Orange Grove Hebrew Congregation
...G-d is your shadow... (Psalms 121:5)
...ה' צִלְּךָ... (תהילים קכא:ה)
When a young man once complained to the Rebbe that, despite his efforts in Torah studies, he didn’t feel that he was mastering them, the Rebbe assured him that G-d values his efforts far more than his achievements.
Though that young man found much solace in this response, I wonder what is the point of struggling? What value is there to the toil if you never actually reach the target?
Would you buy a mismatched suit just because it was made by the hard work of a blind tailor? Does G-d enjoy seeing us struggle?
Is my contribution more beloved to G-d when it hurts me?
The Torah tells us "im bechukosai teleichu”1 to which Rashi explains "that you will toil in Torah". We're commanded to study Torah in a way that requires us 'toil' with the promise of the most magnificent blessings of financial prosperity, peace and nachas. Apparently it’s not enough for us to just study Torah. Hashem wants us to sweat bullets over it. Only then will he shower these extraordinary blessings upon us.
It seems as if G-d wants life to be hard for us. Why?
In the Book of Psalms, King David teaches us that “G-d is your shadow”2 – Just as a shadow follows your movements, G-d treats us exactly in the same way that we treat Him.
When we do things for G-d that we’re comfortable with, G-d blesses us with blessings that He is comfortable giving us.
But when we go out of our way for G-d with unusual effort, G-d will go out of His way for us, giving us far more than what we normally deserve.
Far from being a sadistic enterprise, our extra effort is a powerful tool that allows us to draw abundant blessings from on high, far more than we could normally draw.
Instead of running from your tzorres, embrace them as opportunities to exhibit your deep devotion to G-d.
When a member of our Shul complained to me about a group of people that he was unable to respect, I told him that this is a golden opportunity for him. If he is wise enough to choose to be kind to these people despite his better judgement, he will be breaking his own comfort zones for G-d, thus forcing the hand of G-d to shower him with more blessings than he would normally allot to him!
Hence the extraordinary blessings of the Torah are specifically the result of our extra hard work in Torah study.
If you feel challenged by the demands of your faith, instead of backing off, take advantage of it to step out of your comfort zones for Hashem, so that He can do the same for you! Recognise your problem as an opportunity for explosive growth.
Identify a mitzvah that you’re not comfortable doing. Cherish the opportunity to use it to show your love for G-d. The results will blow your mind.
Wishing you a Shavuot that is not just inspiring, but perspiring.