too salty?

Friday, 12 August, 2022 - 5:31 am

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Have you ever had the experience of working hard to cook a dish, only to put too much salt in, rendering the food barely edible?

Little things, like spicing food in correct quantity, can change the entire scenario.

In life, its often not about what we do and how hard we work, rather its how we do it and what perspective we operate with.

This week we read the comforting words of Yeshayahu (Isaaiah) the Prophet. This Shabbat is called ‘Shabbat Nachamu’ referring to the opening words of the prophecy of comfort.

Our Sages asked, why did Yeshayahu merit to be the prophet of comfort?

Their explanation, because Yeshayahu accepted G-d’s mission of prophesying to the Jewish people with joy.

Joy makes all the difference in the world.

Joy is the spice that gives all our deeds an uplifted status.

You may think joy is overrated, after all isn’t the actual work more important than the frame of mind from which you operate?

But actually, this is not the case.

You can be toiling away and doing great stuff. However, if you are doing it with a sense of burden, it is second rate at best. How can that be? It would be analogous to oversalting the dish you labored over. You worked so hard to prepare the dish. You think you deserve points for effort. However, if no one can eat the dish because it is too salty, your efforts will have been in vain.

When it comes to Tzedaka the Rambam spells it out very clearly. Giving joylessly is  at the very bottom of the list.

There are eight levels of charity, each greater than the next.

[1] The greatest level, above which there is no greater, is to support a fellow Jew by endowing him with a gift or loan, or entering into a partnership with him, or finding employment for him, in order to strengthen his hand so that he will not need to be dependent upon others . . .

[2] A lesser level of charity than this is to give to the poor without knowing to whom one gives, and without the recipient knowing from who he received.

…. Click here for full chart of levels

7] A lesser level than this is when one gives inadequately, but gives gladly and with a smile.

[8] A lesser level than this is when one gives unwillingly.

We can readily understand why giving tzedakah unwillingly is the lowest on the list, because there is nothing more demeaning and belittling that someone giving you something begrudgingly. By making the recipient feel like you are giving out of a sense of duty rather than out of care for him, you are causing embarrassment and pain.

Of course, even if you can only bring yourself to give Tzedakah without joy, it is better to give joylessly than not to give at all.

But if you are already doing tzedakah, you may as well do it with joy. By doing so you will open yourself up to a new world. To a deeper and more blessed relationship with G-d.

It is self-understood how in relationships, without joy and excitement the relationship will be on shaky grounds.

In Judaism, weddings are celebrated with incredible joy.

The Torah says that for the first year, the husband must make it his all-consuming priority to ‘make happy the wife that he took’.

Regarding the mitzvah of Brit Milah (circumcision) which has survived throughout the millennia despite all odds, our Sages tell us that since Brit Milah was always done by the Jewish people joyously, it endured.

Any Mitzvah that is done with joy, endures.

Even from a human experiential perspective this makes sense. If you sense that your parents were doing something but didn’t really like to do it, chances are that the kids will not continue to do it. Whereas if your children see how joyously you perform a particular Mitzvah, there is a more than good chance that this is something they will seek to continue.

Amazingly, even for Prophets, the catalyst for being a prophet of comfort as opposed to a prophet prophesying about bitter consequences, is the small but mega-powerful ingredient of JOY.

Simply put, if one accepts upon himself to serve G-d, and is joyous about this commitment, they are opening themselves up to G-d’s blessings and smiles.

Last week we had to find something positive within the apparent destruction. It was difficult to keep a joyous perspective.

Not so this week. We should have no major challenge being joyous this week. We need but to open ourselves up to hearing the voice of consolation and comfort that stream forth from this weeks Haftarah portion from the book of Isaiah.

“Comfort, comfort My people, says your G-d.” 

The anticipation of the comfort that G-d promises to bring us, should be enough to get us dancing with joy!!!

May G-d indeed show us His comforting presence in a revealed and obvious way by bringing Mashiach.

Let us do our bit to enhancing and broadening the channels of blessing from the Almighty by thinking, speaking and acting in a JOYOUS manner.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS the Torah teaches that one of the things that adds joy, is ‘new faces’. Guests bring a fresh spirit and a sense of excitement.

This means that here in Thailand the Shabbat will be one of JOY as the guest list for Shabbat dinner at the Chabad Houses across Thailand has gone over the two thousand guest mark.

Click here to get a glimpse of the preps in Phuket

And here to be a tzedakah partner and sponsoring host

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