Thursday, April 18, 2013

PARSHAS ACHREI MOS-KEDOSHIM 5773



“RABBI’S MUSINGS (& AMUSINGS)”
Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Acharei Mos-Kedoshim
9 Iyar 5773/April 19. 2013 - 24th day of the Omer
Pirkei Avos – Chapter 3

A number of years ago I gave a presentation for an educational institution. A few weeks later, an envelope arrived in the mail from that institution. You can only imagine my surprise when I opened it to find a bill enclosed for the session I had given. It’s one thing not to like my presentation, but to bill me for it – I think that’s a little extreme! I don’t think it could’ve been that bad. 
There’s an old adage that ‘no good deed goes unpunished’. Sometimes our best intentions do not have the results we anticipated, to say the least. But Chazal remind us that often the chesed we do for another is more beneficial to us - the doer- than it is for the receiver.
A number of years ago I was listening to a lecture from Rav Matisyahu Salomon shlita about this very topic. He mentioned that sometimes heaven arranges for us to have an opportunity to perform a chesed because we need the merit for one reason or another.
This is definitely a poignant thought to bear in mind when we are presented with an opportunity to perform a chesed, especially when we are not in the mood.
Soon after listening to that lecture, I picked up a hitchhiking elderly Jew along the side of a road of Monsey. My car did not have a tape deck (actually to be honest I think it had a tape deck that didn’t work) though I had plenty of cassette tapes. So I had an old walkman in the car, and I kept one earphone in my ear (similar to having a Bluetooth in one ear). When my passenger noticed it he began to lecture me about the folly of what I was doing and that it was dangerous. My immediate reaction was of tremendous annoyance. “What an ingrate! How dare he give me advice about what I do in my car when I invited him in?!” But then I remembered the lecture I just heard from Rabbi Salomon. So I nodded and pulled the earplug out of my ear.  I can’t say I would always react that way, but at least that one occasion I was able to maintain perspective.
If we are not yet on the level of doing truly altruistic chesed, we can do it for selfish reasons (as long as the recipient isn’t made to feel like a ‘chesed case’), knowing that we stand to gain much from the chesed we perform.
Oh, and about the bill I received for my workshop, I ended up being paid the full amount I had been billed. I guess my presentation wasn’t so bad after all.

     Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,
    R’ Dani and Chani Staum

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