09 May BEHAR/BECHUKOTAI: THE REWARD FOR FAITH
The Gemara in
Masechet Kiddushin teaches us,
the reward for observing
mitzvot comes not in
this world, but rather in the next world.
Commentators raised the question of
how Hashem can delay our reward to
the next world. After all, there is a
command in the Torah forbidding an
employer from delaying payment to his
worker. If somebody was hired to work
for a day, the employer is required by
the Torah to pay the worker right away,
at the end of the day (unless the worker
agrees to a different arrangement).
How, then, can Hashem delay our
“payment” for our mitzvot until after we
depart from this world? Why doesn’t
He repay us for our “work” immediately?
Some commentators answer this
question based on the distinction drawn
in halachah between workers hired
directly by the employer, and workers
hired by the employer’s agent. An
employer is required to pay workers
immediately only if he hired them
directly. But if he appointed someone
– like a manager – to hire the workers
on his behalf, then he is not required to
pay them right away at the end of the
We were “hired” to perform the mitzvot
by Hashem’s agent – Moshe Rabbenu.
He is the one who taught us the mitzvot.
Therefore, Hashem does not pay us
right away for the mitzvot we perform.
We receive our “wages” only in the next
However, there are two commands
which we heard directly from Hashem
at Mount Sinai – the first two of the Ten
Commandments. These are the command of
believing in Hashem – and the prohibition of
not to worship other gods. These mitzvot were heard
from Hashem directly when He revealed
Himself at Mount Sinai. Therefore,
Hashem rewards us for obeying these
commands – for having faith in Him –
immediately, in this world. We will not
have to wait to be rewarded for our
However, we must remember what
emunah means – that we place our
faith only in Hashem, and not in any
other “gods.” It means that we place
our faith only in Him, and not in our
boss, our business, a client, a product,
an investment, our intelligence, our
talents, our skills, a political figure, or
anything or anyone else. It means
relying solely and exclusively on
Hashem. If we do this, then we are
rewarded immediately, right away.
This explains the promise made by
Hashem in Parashat Behar of the reward
for observing the mitzvah of shemittah.
Every seven years, farmers are to refrain
from working the land, and leave all the
produce for anyone who wants it.
Observing this mitzvah requires a great
deal of emunah – trusting that Hashem
will take care of them even though they
will “close the shop” for an entire year,
and let anyone who wants come and
take the “merchandise” for free.
Hashem promises that if Beneh Yisrael
observe this mitzvah, then He will
reward them with great prosperity, and
the land will produce extra food. In
reward for our emunah, we are rewarded
Although we do not observe the
mitzvah of shemittah here in the United
States, its message is no less relevant to
us than it is to farmers in Israel. Even
though we can and should work hard to
earn a living, we need to always
remember that Hashem alone gives us
everything we have, and we should be
relying on Him, and only Him, at all
times. We need to place our trust in
Him, and not in any other “gods,” and
rely on His promise of reward even in
this world for our emunah.