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Friday, 27 November, 2020 - 4:46 am

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

There is deeply satisfying feeling that comes from being needed.

It’s quite ironic.

Being needed means that someone needs something of us. That usually requires effort or sacrifice of some degree.

This is why we often complain about all the obligations we have.

Yet it is precisely those responsibilities, as much as we like to kvetch about them, that give us the rewarding feeling of a sense of purpose.

The best example for this that I can think of, is parenthood. Becoming a parent is an irreversible quantum leap in terms of personal character development.

If you have been blessed with G-d Almighty’s ‘sweetest-of-the-sweet’ blessing to become a parent, you know exactly what I mean.

Once you are blessed with a child, responsibility kicks in big time. The little bundle of life that is your baby creates the greatest change possible in you. You are now responsible to care for this human being. You are needed in the most essential way. To feed, diaper, bathe and love your child. As kids grow and get older their needs change. Still, even as they pass through all the stages till reaching adulthood, they have needs that you are expected to provide. You are needed to provide those things.

I know, it is ‘fashionable’ to complain about our kids. There are all kinds of jokes how they tend to call us only when they need us.

Yet, admittedly, we also feel deeply fulfilled when we are called upon for help and we can provide those needs.

The best proof for that is, that once kids don’t live at home and don’t need their parents help on a regular basis, the empty nest syndrome often becomes a real issue.

In marriage too, there is a similar incongruity.

Many complain about their spouses making demands on them and needing them.

Yet, the best marriages often develop between spouses who are not scared to be open and vulnerable with each other. By admitting how much they need each other they allow for a genuine give and take partnership.

In a marriage where a partner feels they are not ‘needed’ dissatisfaction often sets in.

Its counterintuitive. You may want to not be a nudge to your spouse and ask them for something. So you don’t ask and do without. Yet it may be that by your spouse being needed by you, they feel more deeply connected to you and to your marriage. Being vulnerable and expressing your needs to your spouse should actually strengthen your marriage.

I hope my kids are reading this, so that they feel good about asking me for help.

My wife is certainly reading this, and I am sure she will know how to leverage it 😊

Hmm. I wonder if ‘being needed’, is one of the benefits that people receive by owning pets.

What do I know about pets you ask?

Not much. We never had a pet dog or cat when I was growing up in Melbourne. But we did have a pet ‘Galah’ for a time. A Gala is a species of cockatoo bird that is prevalent in Australia. It has a distinctive pink and gray feather coloring. As a prize for doing well in our studies, our father took my siblings and I to the pet store and we bought a bird.

If I remember correctly, we named the Galah with the ‘Jewish name’ of Sholom Aleichem. This was because of our anticipation that we would teach it to talk and parrot back to us the Hebrew greeting of Sholom Aleichem.

We enjoyed having a pet. For the first few months that is. Feeding the bird was enjoyable. We rejoiced when we imagined that we had taught it to say ‘Shalom Aleichem’.

Eventually, after the excitement wore off, the responsibility of caring for the birds was more than us kids wanted to handle. We especially dreaded the weekly chore of cleaning the cage. But our parents had placed the responsibility of caring for the pet squarely on our shoulders. When we were not living up to our duties, and their reminders about taking care of the sanitary conditions of our pet were not being met the decision was made. An alternate safe home was found for ‘Sholom Aleichem’ and we no longer had a pet.

Looking back, I realize that domesticated pets really create a nuisance for their owner. Yes, I realize they provide companionship and warmth. But they also generate a task list of chores that one would otherwise not have.

And pet owners often complain about it. I have heard people complaining ‘Oh, I can’t go anywhere for more than a few days as I have to come back and care for my pet’.

Is it possible that deep down the pet owner also feels fulfilled by having that responsibility on their head? Another living creature needs them.

I don’t have a pet, but I am guessing that being needed by your furry friend provides a very warm feeling.

This has all been a build up to the main point that I would like to share. An existential truth that is AWESOME if you but take a few moments to think about it.

It’s comforting and uplifting to be needed by others.

It’s absolutely transformational to know that we are ‘needed’ by Almighty G-d Himself!!!

G-d, tells us in the Torah that HE needs us.

Let me be clear. To use the word ‘need’ about G-d is a very ‘borrowed term’. As the infinite Creator He ‘needs’ no one and nothing. He IS the ultimate everything. When we use the term that G-d ‘needs us’ we of course mean that He has chosen ‘so to speak’ to ‘need’ us.

This week’s Torah portion ‘Vayetze’ says it clearly. When Yaakov was on his journey to establish his family, G-d communicated with Him. The language of the verse is that ‘G-d was standing on him and said I am G-d the G-d of your father Avraham…etc’.

The Midrash translates this verse that ‘G-d standing ‘on him’ in quite a literal sense. That G-d is being ‘supported’ by Yaakov. I.e. that G-d ‘needs’ Yaakov’s efforts to fulfill His masterplan.

This verse applies not just over our forefather Yaakov. And not just four thousand years ago. Yaakov is the catalyst for every Jew. We are all children of Yaakov (also named Yisrael, thus we are called ‘the children of Israel’). And the Torah is eternal and its message resounds for all times.

Here is what G-d ‘needs us for.

G‑d desired to have a dwelling place in the lower worlds (Dirah BeTachtonim). We are the ones to carry out this desire.

Below is quoted from an article by Rabbi Dubov click here for full article.

It is for this purpose that He created a chain order of worlds, with higher and lower realms, with the purpose of creation specifically in the lowest of all.

To accomplish the task of creating a dwelling place, one would need to take the material world and elevate and connect it to G‑d. This is the basis of Mitzvah performance. The word Mitzvah, in addition to meaning a commandment, also means a connection. The 613 Mitzvot of the Torah are ways in which we may connect every echelon and aspect of our earthly lives with G‑d. We make G‑d feel at home in our kitchen by observing the Jewish dietary laws. He feels at home in the workplace when we keep the business ethic. He feels at home in the weekly cycle when we keep Shabbat. Dirah BeTachtonim means taking the “physical world,” known as Gashmiut, and permeating it with “spirituality” (Ruchniut) and thereby revealing its G‑dly essence.

The bottom line is:

YOU and I and every single one of us is NEEDED.

By no less then G-d Almighty Himself.

We are not just always in His presence.

Even more than that.

We are always needed by Him.

One cannot feel aimless or purposelessness after hearing something like this.

This is why the Torah teaches us that everyone should say and feel that ‘G-d NEEDS me’. ‘For me to serve HIM my entire world has been created’.

This mission continues from birth till the end. It doesn’t matter if you are employed. If you have a career. If you are a parent. If you are single. If you have a pet or you are carefree and responsibility-free to any other creature in this world. You have a purpose.

G-d ‘needs’ you!!!

You have an existential responsibility to your Master and Creator.

We fulfil this by doing Mitzvah’s thus following the ‘instruction manual’ of our ‘handler’.

This is enough to make one want to do whatever G-d wants.

This is a good reason to do so with joy. What could be more existentially uplifting than being able to be a contributor to G-d’s Almighty’s plan.

So, nu, what are we waiting for?

Let’s dance!!!!

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

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