18 Tishrei 5782 / Friday, September 24, 2021 | Torah Reading: Sukkot
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HomeFoundations of JudaismJewish Daily Life and HalachaWhat They Can't Take from You
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What They Can't Take from You    

What They Can't Take from You

Why invest in the temporary? Only those accomplishments that nobody can ever take from you are the one's worth pursuing with all your heart and all your soul…


That snake!


I had this nice side job writing for a financial company. It was good money and the lady I worked for was very fair. One day, her secretary innocently asked if I could help her write some articles. I was assured by the boss and the secretary that I was doing a personal favor and the articles were for private use.


A month later, my workload got cut in half. The secretary would do the rest. The following month I was let go.


Then there was my friend. He worked at a law firm for years and was primed for promotion. Out of the blue, a new employee came on the scene. My friend never understood how this newcomer got all the plum assignments. After a year, the new guy got my friend’s promotion.


He was told, off the record of course, that it was because he wasn't gay and one of the partners demanded social justice. It didn't matter that my friend worked his heart out for years, or that he lived an upright life.


Does it ever feel that no matter how hard you work, or how long you toil, whatever you have or want can be taken away for despicable reasons?


I thought with age this nonsense would stop. It never does.




Between the holy and the mundane


Hashem takes everything that belongs solely in this fleeting world and works to remind you throughout your life that it is all an illusion. Anything that can be taken away from you is something you may need to work for, like a salary, a place to live, and feeding your family, but it isn't something you should be putting your all your existence into. Only those accomplishments that nobody can ever take from you are the one's worth pursuing with all your heart and all your soul.


What are the things we toil in that cannot be taken away by politics, corruption, or fancy?


The King of Spain wanted to know just how much his top advisers owned. He asked all of them to prepare statements of their total assets and present them to him the next day. All of the advisers put their numbers before the king, one striving to outdo the next.


When it was Rabbi Don Abarbanel's turn, he humbly handed the king a small note with a number that was a fraction of what everyone else had.


The king demanded an explanation. Rav Don Abarbanel was his Financial Minister, it was his job to have more than anyone. Either he came clean or he would be executed.


The Rav explained, "Your majesty, we all know that whatever my wealth, it's a false claim. You can take away everything in an instant. What you cannot touch is my charity. The money I have given to the sages, the poor, and widows is a mitzvah that is in G-d's Vault. This you cannot touch."


The king smiled in approval.


The holy Facebook feed


Every day we open our eyes to a new Facebook feed. We sit up in our bed and recite the prayer thanking Hashem for bringing us back to life from our slumber.


In our Facebook feed up Above, there is a new post, "I just recited the prayer upon waking up, thank You Hashem."


The moment it's posted, Hashem clicks "like." Then the angel you created with this mitzvah clicks "like." The angels charged with bringing light into this world, helping others, or doing something wonderful for someone in the merit of this mitzvah, or because the merit of this mitzvah tipped the scales on this Divine Decision to YES, also click like.


You get dressed and put on your Tzitzit.


Your feed is updated with another post, "I recited a blessing over tzitzit and put them on today."


The same Chorus of Light all press LIKE.


You have a cup of coffee.


The post reads, "I drank something Kosher. I recited the blessing acknowledging G-d the Creator of my sustenance."


More likes.


You go on to recite the morning prayers.


A new post reads, "I put on tefillin. I recited the morning blessings, the Temple Offerings, the Shema, and Shemonei Esrei."


More likes.


You learn Torah before going to work.


More likes.


A young woman dressed in a tight t-shirt walks by you and smiles. You don't see it because you’ve kept your eyes down.


The post reads: "I made teshuva for the sins of my generation."


More likes.


Every day, your likes are committed to His Divine Database. Every year Hashem reviews your feed for the previous 12 months and decides the fate of your life for the coming year. At the end of your life, the entire feed is opened up, and reviewed bit by bit.


There is not a single “like” that anyone on earth can ever take away from you.



* * *

My wife and I developed http://www.succeedinisrael.com/, a 5-hour, 20-video series to give you day to day guidance on How to Live a Better Life in Israel, and to share our joy in experiencing life in greatest place on earth.

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