03 Aug RE’EH
The Vision from Above
Chassidim were once traveling with Rebbe Naftali of Ropshitz zt’l, and before they boarded the wagon, they agreed on a price with the gentile wagon driver. The wagon driver looked back and counted the people in the wagon, and he complained, “We agreed on a price for six passengers, but there are seven passengers in the wagon.” Rebbe Naftali Ropshitzer zt’l got off the wagon and counted the people in the wagon. “You see, there are only six people in the wagon, as we agreed upon.” The wagon driver was appeased, and Rebbe Naftali climbed back on the wagon. Sometime later, the wagon driver looked back again, counted the passengers and said, “There are seven people on the wagon! We agreed on a price for six people!” Once again, Rebbe Naftali got off the wagon, counted the people on the wagon, and showed the wagon driver that there were only six people on the wagon. The wagon driver didn’t ask any more questions and brought them to their destination. Rebbe Naftali told his chassidim, “Things look different from below than from above.”4 This is a lesson about life: When we look from below, with human eyes, we see suffering and the like. But if we could see from above and see things as Hashem sees them, we would understand that everything is for the good. Reb Yaakov Meir Shechter shlita expressed it this way: In this world, things seem to be without order: One sees a small house; next to it, there’s a tall building. What’s the order? He looks at the trees: Some places have trees, some don’t. Some are fruit trees, and some aren’t. He doesn’t understand the patterns. Then he contemplates people, and he is totally confused. One person is poor, and the next is rich. Why? It doesn’t seem fair. Where’s the justice? But when we look up at the heaven, everything seems orderly. The sun comes out on time and goes according to its cycle, and so does the moon. The stars go to their places. Astrologists know beforehand what we will see in the sky, because everything is orderly and precise. And when one is sitting on an airplane, looking down, everything seems orderly. However, when he is on earth, he sees the details of life and he doesn’t understand why there are so many differences. And certainly, when one has Emunah, and sees matters as Hashem sees them from Above, he discovers that everything is the way it’s supposed to be. Even if he doesn’t see it that way, he believes that everything is exactly as it should be. A tzaddik is called “a derhoibener Yid,” a higher Yid. Why? The Chofetz Chaim said that it could be compared to people walking near a high wall. They don’t see what’s on the other side. But then a tall person passes by, and he can see over the fence. Similarly, a derhoibener Yid is someone who understands more. He sees from above, he looks at things from Hashem’s perspective, and he believes that everything is for the good. The Yalkut Gershuni (Mishlei 31) writes that the poor are jealous of the wise. They wish they were born with brains like the wealthy because then they could also make lucrative business deals and become wealthy. The wealthy think, “I’m so fortunate that Hashem created me with a good mind. I made wise choices, and therefore I got to where I am in life.” But then the pauper and the wealthy person meet, they discover that the pauper is wiser! As it states (mishlei 22:2) ,when a wealthy person meets with a pauper, they discover that Hashem does everything. It wasn’t because he was wise, or that he was foolish. Everything happens according to Hashem’s plan. Some poor people make very wise investments and choices, yet nothing becomes of them. All their efforts fail. Instead of earning money, they lose money. There are wealthy people though who make one foolish investment after the next, and yet they prosper. This is because, everything happens according to Hashem’s decree. There is an order, and there is a plan, and it is directed from Above.
The last pasuk of this week’s parashah discusses the korbanos we bring on Yom Tov, and it states “Each person, as much as his hand can afford, according to the blessing that Hashem grants you.”
The pasuk is juxtaposing the person’s hand and Hashem’s blessings. Rebbe Yitzchak Eizik Kahana zt’l hy’d explains that when a poor person receives money from the hand of a baal tzedakah, or a worker receives his paycheck from the hand of his boss, he will not thank the hand. He will thank the person who gave him the money. And when one thinks a drop deeper, he realizes that it wasn’t the baal tzedakah or the boss who gave him the money. He received his money from Hashem. The boss or the baal tzedakah is like Hashem’s hand; the means Hashem used to send him His blessings. Therefore, his primary gratitude should go to Hashem.
(It is important to have hakaras hatov to the giver, but to know at the same time that our primary thanks go to Hashem.) The same is true when someone hurts you, chalilah. Remember that the person is acting as an extension of Hashem’s hand. There is no reason to be upset at the messenger. This is the meaning of the pasuk, just like when a person gives with his hand, the gratitude goes to the person and not to the hand, so too, recognize that really, it isn’t the person either. It is Hashem Who is bestowing His blessing.
Not by the Strength of Your Hand
Just as we must know that it isn’t the person’s hand, but rather the gift from Hashem, we must also know that our own hands don’t hold power, everything is from Hashem. It is easy for a person to err in this matter, as it states (Devarim 8:17)will say in your heart, ‘My strength and the might of my hand earned for me all this wealth, remember Hashem because he is the one who gave you strength to earn your wealth.” The Chovas HaLevavos (Bitachon, ch.7) writes, “A chassid had a scribe who worked for him in his home, and the scribe’s parnassah came from his writing. One day, the chassid asked him, ‘How are things going for you?’ “The scribe replied, ‘As long as my hand is healthy, everything will be well.’ That night he hurt his hand in an accident, and he couldn’t write for the rest of his life. This was his punishment from Hashem because he put his trust in his hand,” and he forgot that everything comes from Hashem. The Imrei Noam (Terumah 20) writes that the hands, legs, and tongue are the limbs that move about the most. Yet, everyone understands that they can’t move without the heart. If the heart isn’t pumping, the limbs don’t function. Similarly, we must know that everything happens by (Tehillim 73:26) the, םלועל†יקלחו†יבבל†the world – by Hashem’s hashgachah. Without Hashem, he can’t move his hands, and he can’t earn his parnassah. In parashas Terumah it states (Shemos 25:2), “m’et kol ish asher y’dabro libo yikcho et trumati” tzaddikim explain: if you want to measure ובל†someone’s heart, yikcho et trumati, check his generosity. If he is generous and wants to help others, you know that he has a good heart. Someone had a heartache, r’l. A hatzalah member answered the call, arrived immediately, and began checking the patient’s pulse. The patient said, “Why are you taking my hand? My hand is fine. The problem is with my heart.” The Hatzalah member replied, “Yes, you’re right. The problem is in the heart, but by examining the hand we can know what’s going on in the heart.” The nimshal is, by looking at someone’s hands, one can know what’s doing in his heart. If one is generous with his hands, that shows that he has a generous heart. The heart also represents one’s thoughts, and one can tell by one’s hands what he is thinking in his head. If someone works with his hands all hours of the day, without leaving ample time for Torah and tefillah, this shows that he thinks parnassah is from “the work of my hands.” He doesn’t believe that parnassah is from Hashem.