Va'eschanan: Moshiach & Ice Cream

I've noticed that there's still a lot of chatter on how Moshiach HAS TO COME, especially from Americans... (especially those who thought Trump WAS Moshiach).  Many have been contemplating moving to Israel with their families (something which is quite dangerous for older children, as we have witnessed over and over again), thinking, "Well, Moshiach is coming...".  Just a few days ago, somebody in the States sighed to my wife after Tisha B'Av, "Well... I guess Hashem didn't want Moshiach to come...."

It's as if, our whole religion is based around the Messiah... mmmm... sounds familiar.

It should be clarified that there is no mitzvah to expect Moshiach to come at a certain date or after a certain event.  Rather we are to believe that he CAN come ANY DAY ANY TIME.  Each day, there's a 50/50 chance of him coming.  But it's not dependent on dates or events... if anything, it's dependant on our spiritual standing.

Let me give a parable.  I was recently at a grocery store near Haifa, which I rarely get to.  It's a fun place.  Lot's of kosher items, which I don't have access to.  So, I stop by the ice-cream freezer.  Why?  I rarely buy ice-cream.  Like, really rarely.   Many years ago, there was a flavour called "Boomba", which I loved.   It reminded me of a Baskin Robbins flavour when I was a kid.  And on the rare occasion that I needed to buy ice-cream, I would buy that.  Seven years ago, they stopped selling it.  I don't know if it was just where I live, or across the country.  But, every time I pass an ice-cream freezer, I peek in.  I know there's a good chance that it's not there, but... you never know.  There's always that chance.

So... I guess you can say that Moshiach is like Boomba ice-cream.  Always have hope, always daven, always check... but keep in mind, he might not be there just yet.

Okay, on to Torah...

"It shall be that when Hashem, your G-d, brings you to the land that Hashem swore to your forefathers, to Avraham, to Yitzchok, and to Yaakov, to give you – great and good cities that you did not build, houses filled with every good thing that you did not fill, hewn-out cisterns that you did not hew, orchards and olive trees that you did not plant – and you shall eat and be satisfied" (Devarim 6: 10).


Every year this pasuk stands out and bothers me.  There seems to be something "not right" with it, but you can't tell the Torah that the Torah is not Torah-dik, can you?  So obviously, I'm missing something.


This year it hit me.  Well, two things hit me.  The first was my wife when I attempted to compliment her looks one morning (why she could not see the poetic beauty of being compared to a grizzly bear coming out of hibernation, I don't know).  The second was a possible answer to the question that I have every year.


There's a famous question, "If Hashem wanted to give us only good, why didn't He simply create a perfect world for us?" And the famous answer is that a person enjoys reward for his hard work more than he enjoys getting things free all the time."


So, my question was, in that case, why is it a good thing to come into a land where everything has been done for us?  The nations previously living in Eretz Yisroel did all the hard work, and we simply come in and take over, without lifting a finger.  This is getting things for free.  This is NOT working hard and receiving a reward!  How could a person feel good about what he has when he didn't do a thing to earn it?


Many opponents of kollel, will often quote the Rambam: "One who decides that instead of working he will occupy himself with Torah study and live from charity, profanes G-d's name, disgraces the Torah, extinguishes the light of the law, brings harm upon himself, and removes himself from the World to Come…"


Yet, at the end of Hilchos Shmittah V'Yovel, the Rambam writes: "Not only the Tribe of Levi, but each and every individual human being, whose spirit moves him and whose knowledge gives him understanding to set himself apart in order to stand before the Lord, to serve Him, to worship Him, and to know Him, who walks upright as God created him to do, and releases himself from the yoke of the many foolish considerations which trouble people - such an individual is as consecrated as the Holy of Holies, and his portion and inheritance shall be in the Lord forever and ever. The Lord will grant him adequate sustenance in this world, just as He granted to the priests and to the Levites."


It's seems like a bit of a contradiction.  I'm not going to go into all the details of kollel vs. working or anything like that.  That's a whole big thing beyond the scope of this Dvar Torah.


My Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Asher Rubenstein, once said that the first Rambam is applicable to those who are supposed to be sitting, learning, and growing, yet are wasting their time. They are taking money from others and not using it appropriately.  The second Rambam is dealing with those who do use their time properly to grow.  They don't expect others to give them money, but they do expect Hashem to provide for their needs in whatever way He deems fit.  Note the language the Rambam uses.  In the first quote, it was speaking of taking money from people, while the second was Hashem providing.


I know two types of people who, still in their forties, receive money from parents.  Both types are found in the working world and the kollel world.  It has nothing to do with one's "job."


The first type works hard, whether working or learning, and the parents recognize this fact and happily give them money here and there to help them out.  The children might not depend on the parents, nor do they expect anything from the parents, but the parents wish to help.

The second type never learned to take their own lives into their own hands.  Their parents were "enablers," who every time their children whimpered, they jumped in and "saved the day."  The children, while in their forties, consider themselves "stressed out" all the time and "are barely coping," while the parents are taking care of them in many different ways.


When a person is like the second type, anything that he is given, inside, he doesn't feel right about.  He knows that he never earned it.  It eats away at him.  By nature, people don't like living off of the charity of others, and while this person does and will continue to do so, inside, they don't feel right, and that is one reason they are always feeling stressed.


The first type is somebody who relies on Hashem.  He does whatever he needs to do in order to make things work, but in the end, he knows that Hashem supports somehow.  When something comes their way, whether via a parent, relative, friend, or who-knows-what, he doesn't look at is as taking charity or receiving help because he's a nebach.  He's doing his 100 percent and Hashem is providing him for that.


We often look at our level of income as our "end all be all."  If we are successful in business, then of course, we deserve all sorts of fancy things.  If we are not so successful, but we're "hanging in there," then any additional "help" makes us a nebach.


But this is not true.


When we depend on man, then we're a nebach.  That means even a rich person can be a nebach if he's dependent on others.  However, when a person relies on Hashem and His agents, whomever they will be, then as long as he does what the Torah expects of him, he is not a nebach, but rather a success.  So, in the end, he can receive something for free and feel good about it, since it's not coming from another human being, but rather from Hashem Himself.  And it's not really for "free," since he "paid" for it, by following the Torah.


I believe that this is an important lesson for all of us to internalize.  Depending on others to take care of us is not healthy, whether one is working or learning.  It's against human nature to live off of the charity of others.  Depending on Hashem though is something different, even if it's via other people.  Perhaps the outcome LOOKS the same, it's coming through human beings, but on the insides, it's completely different.

Have a wonderful Shabbos!