Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Too many of us have experienced the feeling.

You have just disembarked (or deplaned, as the modern term goes) after a long, exhausting flight. You’re just about ready to fall on your face, but still have to trek through the entire airport, get to the baggage claim, and hopefully find your luggage – all of your luggage. You make your way there and, like everyone else, stick your neck out, staring at the conveyor belt. The luggage starts coming out. You crane your neck searching for yours, over and over again. Finally, you find one of your suitcases, but where’s the other one?


It’s nowhere to be found. Frustration and aggravation is your lot today. You go to the office located near the baggage claim and report your missing suitcase. They tell you they’ll let you know when and if it turns up.

You head home from the airport feeling despondent and worried; you had some valuable items in the lost suitcase. You daven to Hashem that your suitcase should be found, and you go to sleep. The next morning, you get a call from a representative at the airport saying that your suitcase was accidentally sent to California. However, it should be arriving tomorrow and they will let you know when you can pick it up. Baruch Hashem, you get a call the next day that your suitcase has arrived.

Earlier that day, when you had told your friend what happened, he mentioned that he would be going to the airport to pick up his father and if you like, he can get the suitcase for you. What a relief. Now you call him to say that the suitcase has arrived.

You are a bit anxious, so you wait outside your house for him to come with the suitcase. Finally, you see his car. He parks, gets out and goes to the back to get the suitcase out of the trunk. You see him take a big and heavy suitcase out and begin to lug it up towards your house. You start to feel nausea and scream, “That’s not my suitcase! You have the wrong one!”

Your friend calls out to you, “How do you know I have the wrong one? Why don’t you wait until I get closer so you’ll be able to tell for sure?”

You answer, “I don’t have to wait. I know it’s not mine. My suitcase was much smaller and was very easy to carry. It actually had expensive jewelry in it! I didn’t reveal that fact until now because I was afraid to tell anyone how foolish I was to leave it in there. The one you are schlepping is way too big to be mine!”

The Dubno Maggid (cited in Haggadah Chashukei Chemed of Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein) used this mashal to help us understand a pasuk (Malachi 3:13-14) in the haftarah for Shabbos HaGadol, “Your words are too strong against me, says Hashem… you have said it is worthless to serve Elokim.”

Rav Zilberstein explained this verse with another one (Yeshaya 43:22), “Velo Osi karas Yaakov ki yagata Bi Yisrael, You have not called upon Me, Yaakov, because You have become weary of Me.”

Yeshaya rebukes Klal Yisrael for acting as if they are tired from serving Hashem. They walk around troubled and without joy. They perform mitzvos without happiness and excitement. They are simply going through the motions and not connecting to what they’re doing. Yeshaya is letting us know that if we schlep ourselves through life, dragging our feet as we perform our avodah, we are not really serving Hashem. True avodas haBorei should make us feel light on our feet, it should be as if we are carrying precious jewels and are excited with our treasure. If it feels like a big heavy suitcase, we are doing something wrong.

If a well-known talmid chacham would ask us to get him a glass of water, would we not be excited to fulfill his request? If yes, then, when our Master and Creator asks us to do something for Him, to perform a mitzvah, shouldn’t we be running to fulfill His wishes?

If we were serving and working for a famous person, wouldn’t we enjoy our connection to him or her, even without a salary? We should be seeing our avodah as an opportunity to serve and work for the “most famous person” – even if there is no reward. Just having the chance to connect with “Him” everyday should motivate us to come back to work.

With each and every mitzvah, we are forming a deep and beautiful relationship with Hashem and earning an eternal reward and connection with Him. What could be more important and joyful than that? We should never feel as if we are lugging around heavy suitcases of avodas Hashem.

As it says in Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh (Volume 1, os 42):

“The mitzvos are not unrelated entities, but rather a roadmap, indicators as to how to achieve dveikus to the Creator. Chazal say, ‘Even the emptiest of the Jewish people are filled with mitzvos like a pomegranate’ (Berachos 57a).

“The obvious question is: Why, then, are they called ‘empty’ if their mitzvos are as numerous as the seeds of a pomegranate? HaRav Dovid Povarsky, zt”l, gave a wonderful answer. He said that one might have many mitzvos to his credit, yet still be defined as empty. Why? Because a pomegranate has many seeds, but each one is distinct from the others. It is not like an apple or pear that is one unit. Rather, each seed stands alone.

“Similarly, a person can learn Torah and perform many mitzvos, but he will still be considered empty, because his deeds are separate from each other, with nothing unifying them. Torah and mitzvos must be performed as parts of one unit, not as disconnected acts. They must all participate in the building of one’s inner spiritual edifice. If he has not achieved that inner element that unites all his Torah and mitzvos, a person might learn Torah his entire life and fulfill many mitzvos, but still be among the empty ones among them.’ What is that inner element? Dveikus to Hashem! If one is working to reach this goal, all the Torah he studies and all the mitzvos he performs will be interconnected, for they all will bring him to a common goal. But if Torah and mitzvos are not performed in a way that brings a person to this closeness, and there is nothing to unite them, they will remain disconnected from each other.”

Let us passionately grow on Pesach with all its many mitzvos and be sure to carry our small suitcases full of the jewels of Torah wherever we go.

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Rabbi Boruch Leff is a rebbe in Baltimore and the author of six books. He wrote the “Haftorah Happenings” column in The Jewish Press for many years. He can be reached at [email protected].