web analytics
May 6, 2015 / 17 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

The Five-Star Hotel Called Life

The-Shmuz

After these matters, Hashem appeared to Avram in a dream and said, Do not fear, Avram. I will guard you. Your reward is great.’ ” – Bereishis 16:1

 

When Avraham Avinu was informed that his nephew Lot was captured, he waged war against the combined armies of the four kings. Miraculously, he was victorious and freed Lot.

After these events, Hashem appeared to Avraham and said, “Do not fear; your reward is great.” Rashi explains that Avraham was afraid that since this great miracle had been done for him, he had used up all of his merits and had no reward waiting for him in the World to Come. Hashem allayed those fears by saying, “Everything that I have done for you will not cost you. Do not fear; your reward is great.”

This Rashi is very difficult to understand. How is it possible that a man as great Avraham could have thought he used up all of his reward? After years of serving Hashem, surely the reward waiting for him was phenomenal.

The answer to this is based on viewing life from a different vantage point.

Pesach in Arizona

Imagine that your father-in-law invites you to join him for Pesach in Arizona. This is the ultimate Pesach extravaganza. No expense is spared; the guests are showered with every imaginable luxury and amenity. A five-star hotel, French chefs, an 18-hole golf course on premises – the best of the best. You graciously accept and are ready to have the time of your life. But as it turns out, by the time Pesach comes around, things at work aren’t going well, and lately you’ve been fighting with your wife. As a result, you’re in the worst mood you’ve ever been in. For the nine days you are there, you barely leave your hotel room.

When the vacation is over, your father-in-law approaches the hotel manager, and says, “My son-in-law hardly ate the entire time he was here. He didn’t come to a single gala kiddush. He didn’t use the golf course. Not once did he step foot in the spa. Normally, I am not the type to complain. But I just can’t see paying the regular rate, so I’ve decided to pay half the bill, and expect you to waive the other half.”

How do you think the hotel representative would respond?

This planet we occupy is a five-star hotel. We have every imaginable pleasure and amenity available to us. We enjoy majestic sights and experiences that constantly surround us. From magnificent floral scenes to exotic sea life, from the glory of the night sky to the clear aqua green of the ocean, from a flower in bloom to the plumage of a jungle parrot to the pomp and ceremony of a sunrise, this is a world created in Technicolor.

And more than that, we were given the tools with which to enjoy it. We have legs with which to walk and hands with which to hold. We have ears, a tongue, a nose, and fingers that bring us an astounding array of pleasures from the world around us. We have foods that explode with a burst of different flavors, aromas, textures, and colors. We are surrounded by untold pleasures and riches.

But more than anything, we have been granted the extraordinary privilege called life. We were given this golden opportunity to shape ourselves into what we can be for eternity. Is there any way to measure the value of life? Is it worth a million dollars? Ten million? A hundred billion? Is it even possible to put a value on our existence?

Whether we recognize it for its extraordinary value or not, we are the recipients of an unfathomable amount of good. And as such, we owe. From the moment we are born the clock starts ticking and the debt begins. For every breath we breathe, for every pleasure we enjoy, for every moment of our being, the bill increases. We owe our Creator for that which He has given us.

No Free Lunch

Somehow, we assume that all of the pleasures of this world are on the house. I certainly won’t be charged for them. However, the Chovos HaLevavos explains that in reality, we do owe for them. They were given to us by Hashem, and as a result we owe for them.

For this reason, Avraham was afraid. He made a calculation based on what he received from Hashem versus what he had given in return, and he came out only slightly ahead. “Now that Hashem has wrought this great miracle for me,” he thought, “what possible reward do I have left? Surely it has been all used up, and there is nothing left for me in the World to Come.”

Avraham Avinu wasn’t out of touch with reality. Quite the opposite. He was highly attuned to a part of the calculation we rarely think about; namely, that we are not entitled to anything. Hashem didn’t have to create us. Hashem isn’t obligated to shower us with good. Everything Hashem gives us is because He wants to share His good with us. Because of this, we owe a debt to Hashem that can never be repaid.

This perspective should be a major driving force in our serving Hashem, prompting us to attempt as much as we can to pay back the astounding good that He constantly bestows upon us.

About the Author: Rabbi Shafier is the founder of the Shmuz.com – The Shmuz is an engaging, motivating shiur that deals with real life issues. All of the Shmuzin are available free of charge at the www.theShmuz.com or on the Shmuz App for iphone or Android.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Five-Star Hotel Called Life”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Hillary Clinton and PA acting president Mahmoud Abbas. Nov. 21, 2012
Clinton Said She Will Speak on Benghazi but Only Once
Latest Judaism Stories
Social Media pic

With ubiquitous texting, social media, & email, society is mislead to think that words are ephemeral

Safar-050115-Califlower

Cauliflower is one of my favorite ingredients to cook with – it blends so easily into whatever dish I am preparing.

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

It’s an interesting idea, that love is illustrated by understanding another’s needs.

Niehaus-050115

“Keeping” Shabbos means to guard it and make sure to keep every aspect and detail of it.

Pesach is a time when we can grow in this perspective. But merely spending a week working on something will not leave any lasting impression on us.

“There is a diamond necklace that I wear on special occasions,” Mrs. Miller told her husband. “It was recently appraised at $6,000. If need be, we can give that as collateral.”

Morah for a parent is connected to shemiras Shabbos because the Shechina shines on, and through, the Sabbath.

“You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall reprove your fellow and do not bear a sin because of him.” – Vayikra 19:17   When the Torah mentions the obligation to rebuke a fellow Jew, it ends with the words “and do not carry a sin because of him.” The Targum translates […]

The Bais Halevi answers that we must properly define what is considered to be “in the middle of a mitzvah.”

They had realized they would be far from civilization and kosher food and had packed plenty of fresh and canned food as well as making sure there was a microwave in their room which they knew how to kasher.

He was deeply saddened by the thought of her going to her final resting place alone and that it appeared as if she knew no one and had no family who cared about her.

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

The Debt Lives On
‘The Orphans’ Mitzvah To Repay Their Father’s Debts’
(Ketubot 91b)

Rabbi Fohrman asks what’s the connection between animal sacrifices and leaving crops for the poor?

Putting parents before oneself is a step toward putting the more abstract concept of God before self

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
Shmuz-logo-NEW

“You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall reprove your fellow and do not bear a sin because of him.” – Vayikra 19:17   When the Torah mentions the obligation to rebuke a fellow Jew, it ends with the words “and do not carry a sin because of him.” The Targum translates […]

Shmuz-logo-NEW

The answer to this question is based on one of the greatest shortcomings of man – self-limiting beliefs.

When Chazal call not eating treif food a chok, that refers to how it functions.

And the farmer can’t help but feel a sense of pride. After all, it was his wisdom that led him to choose corn, not like that fool of a guy next door who planted wheat.

So what type of praise is it that Aaron followed orders?

If my garment is clean, then I will be careful about maintaining its beauty. If it is soiled, I will not be as careful.

This concept should be very relevant to us as we, too, should be happy beyond description.

The avodah (service) of the kohen gadol is vital and highly sensitive; the world’s very existence depends on it.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/the-five-star-hotel-called-life-2/2013/10/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: