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Is G-d happy with you? Shabbat Shalom and Chag Samayach

Friday, 3 June, 2022 - 8:54 am

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

I give thanks to Hashem for saving my life.

For bestowing His beneficence and kindness to the undeserving.

The blessing of thanksgiving is traditionally said publicly in Synagogue in the presence of a minyan. The blessings of technology allow me this forum to additionally thank Hashem even more widely.

I was driving in Israel and the left lane ended abruptly for construction while a large truck was passing me on the right. The construction cones slightly damaged my right mirror but thank G-d my passenger and I were saved.

Thank you Almighty G-d, for this miracle.

And for the many other ‘small miracles’ that happen all the time without fanfare and sometimes without us even knowing about it.

Here is what I call a ‘small miracle’.

I had one day in Israel. With a list of appointments and tasks. The last thing on my list was to visit a friend in Ashdod. But it just didn’t fit into the constraints of time. My flight was to leave at 22:45 from TLV and I would be finishing to visit our daughter in Rehovot at 7:30 PM. No time for meet my Ashdod friend. I thought perhaps I wouldn’t even call him as I had no time to meet.

A few hours before the flight, I was notified that the flight was delayed to 23:55.

I was still not sure if that was enough time to get to Ashdod but I called my friend anyway. He was very excited to hear that I was in town as he wanted to urgently consult me about something and ask for my guidance. Amazingly, he told me that he ‘happened’ to be near Kefar Chabad and we could meet there at 20:00. We met for an hour and then off I went to my flight and with the long security lines I had but a few minutes to spare.

To me this constitutes a ‘small miracle’.

Thank you Hashem, for the many opportunities to see your detailed Divine Providence.

****

A young man recently asked me a question that is very straightforward. Yet, I find that it has left me thinking and pondering.

‘Rabbi, how do you know when Hashem is happy with you’ he asked.

The Ethics of our Fathers addresses this exact topic (3, 10):

One who is pleasing to his fellow men is pleasing to G‑d. But one who is not pleasing to his fellow men is not pleasing to G‑d.

So now we have to analyze how does one become ‘pleasing’ to ‘fellow men’. How do you make other people happy with you?

The hierarchy of who you should care for, begins with those closest to you. Parents. Spouse. Children. Teachers. Students. Relatives. And then circle further outwards to include friends, peers, and acquaintances.

How do you get your loved ones to be ‘happy with you’?

Let us take parents as an example.

A mother tells her child to please pick up the toys in their room.

The child can respond in one of three ways.

Say no and disregard the parent.

Whyne and ask ‘why’. And wait to see if the reason is satisfactory.

Clean up the toys without questioning.

Which of the three do you think will make the parent happy with the child?

Which of the three requires the most effort?

Both answers are the same. Cleaning the toys without questioning requires the most effort and also creates the most happiness. Because it shows that the child cares for the parent and is ready to do what they want even if don’t (yet) understand why.

Let’s move over to spousal relationships.

Has your spouse ever asked you to do something that didn’t make sense to you?

I am assuming that it has happened on occasion.

Again, there are the three choices.

Not to carry out your spouses wish.

To ask for a rational explanation as to why your spouse is asking for that particular thing. Only upon understanding the reason will you agree to fulfill the request.

Or simply fulfill what you were asked to do without questioning.

Which way makes your spouse happiest?

It’s a no brainer. Carry out your spouse’s request and you will have a happier marriage.

It also requires the most effort. As it is not easy to do something that doesn’t make sense to you.

What makes other people happy with you, is when you do things that show how you truly care about THEM.

This is amplified when you are prepared to put forth effort to do what THEY want without needing to understand why. And doing so even if you don’t ‘feel like it’.

This requires a diminishment of ego. Self-centered egoistic people don’t put forth effort for others. This spirit of sharing and caring for others is called selflessness.

There are no shortcuts. Selfless caring and sharing is what makes other people happy with you.

When a person lives that way, selflessly, and others are happy with him, the Mishna says that G-d too is happy with him.

With regard to the festival of Shavuot, our Sages related a detailed description of what makes Hashem happy with us.

The Talmud ( Shabbat 88a ) states: When they assembled at the mountain of Sinai and G-d asked them if they wanted to accept upon themselves the Torah and its commandments. The Jewish people responded, ‘We will DO (what you instruct) and we will ‘hear’ (i.e. endeavor to understand what the meaning of it is)’.

G-d was very happy with their response and said ‘who revealed to my children this ‘ secret’ that the angels employ’.

G-d was so happy with the response that He sent angels to tie two crowns on the head of every Jew at Sinai.

Why did it make G-d so happy when the Jews responded this way?

Why is this a secret?

Well, conventional wisdom dictates that before one acts, one should first understand what it is they are being asked to do, and become motivated and inspired. Only then should they act.

If so, the Jews at Sinai should have responded to G-d’s offer of the Torah, ‘we will understand and consider, and then once sufficiently convinced and motivated, we will act and do’.

However, they responded in a way that seemed impulsive and even a bit irresponsible. How do you agree to do whatever you will instructed without first hearing and studying the ‘find print’ and details of the instruction?

In Heaven they know the ‘secret’.

The ‘secret’, that the heavenly celestial beings know, is that when one wants to connect to G-d, one should fulfill first and ask about the details second.

When we do what HE – G-d - wants. Even if we don’t understand. And even when it requires effort. This is what causes Hashem to be happy with us.

Innately, our souls are privy to this secret.

But it takes effort. Because doing what is better for Him while diminishing my own sense of ‘I’ doesn’t come naturally.

A telling joke someone sent me.

Becky is having lunch with Hannah, the world’s most perfect ‘Princess.’

Becky says, "My husband David is just impossible. Absolutely nothing pleases him. Tell me, Hannah, is your Marvin hard to please?"

Hannah shrugs and replies, "I wouldn't know. I've never tried."

(This joke could be told in the exact reverse, and about all kinds of relationships).

If it were only a joke it would be ok. The unfortunate thing is that some people don’t ever really try to make their loved ones happy with them.

And sadly, many never get around to making the effort to cause Hashem to be happy with them.

So, to answer to my friend’s question.

How do you know when Hashem is happy with you?

First of all, if this is what is on your mind, then you are already in a blessed place. The greatest blessing one can have in life is knowing that we are here, created by Hashem and tasked with fulfilling His mission here on earth.

There really is only one question that determines every choice. Will my next move cause G-d pleasure?

If you are living a life, doing what HE wants and making an effort to do so, then Hashem is happy with you.

However, one must also not be lulled into a false sense of feeling accomplished. This can lead one astray and stunt growth. For only our Creator can truly gauge if our efforts lived up to our potential. To what percent did we use our abilities. Did we really give our 100% to the Almighty?

Truth be told, you don’t need to know if Hashem is happy with you.

The one thing we do need to do is put forth effort to selflessly do what He instructs.

We have to stay ‘on our toes’ and be happy with our efforts but not feel satisfied.

How do we know what to do? For that we have the Torah.

The Torah is the communication of G-d with us the Jewish people and via the Jewish people to humanity at large.

On Shavuot we celebrate and relive the great moment of the giving of the Torah.

It is the most epic gift of all times.

We rejoice, literally, at the festival of Shavout in celebration of this amazingly holy and G-dly gift.

May you receive the Torah with joy and in a way that is absorbed into your very being.

Shabbat Shalom

Chag Sameach

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

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