Shmini – Aim Higher

If we ever sat down to learn Halacha for even five minutes we would soon realize that there are at least a few things we are doing incorrectly, or not doing at all. And if you go deeper it may be painful to realize how much there is of the Torah to do that we haven’t, and in reality, we do want to serve Hashem – the sins, mistakes, slips and falls, those were all momentary lapses of our real desire, to come close to God. It isn’t easy to put in 100% all the time – and maybe we aren’t expected to. In this week’s Parsha the pasuk says, “Moshe said, ‘This is the thing that God commanded you to do, then the glory of Hashem will be upon you.”(9:6) Every mitzvah in the Torah has so much depth to it, so much we may gain from performing it with all the intentions. Yet, even the people that know all the deep kavanos for each mitzvah they know that whatever knowledge they do have is merely a scratch on the surface of the real depth of any mitzvah. And for us regular folk, it is best to serve Hashem as good as we can, to do the best that we can – even if it may not be 100%, maybe only 25% or even 10%, that is still an awesome effort in serving Hashem that we cannot pass up.

When the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rav Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson was visiting America in the 1930’s many people waited to get Brachos from him, yet two men who looked rather wealthy caught his attention and he called them to meet with him before everyone else. When they sat in front of him the Rebbe began, “You’re probably wondering why I asked to see you before everyone else; You see, many of those people want a bracha for health, but I’m not a doctor… the other ones want a blessing for parnassah, but I’m not a businessman either. So when you told my gabbai that you came here to ask me how one can serve Hashem in such challenging times, even with all the pleasures and distractions America has to offer [in the 30’s!], I said, ‘Here we go! This is my area of expertise. Please send them in.” – “So, what Area of business are you in?” asked the Rebbe. “We sell diamonds” they replied. “And what is your profit margin, if I may ask?” posed the Rebbe. “We have a 100% markup rate.” “And if someone were willing to pay only a 20% markup, would you make the deal,” They both replied yes. “And what if that same person came back the next day, would you attempt to sell at 100% or would you start at 20%?” the Rebbe asked, moving forward in his chair. “Of course not!” the businessmen exclaimed, “We would certainly try to sell at the full 100% markup price again.” – “That,” concluded the Rebbe, “is the secret to being a real Jew in challenging times – It’s easy to only do 20% of what the Torah wants of you and feel okay about it. But it is important to remember the 100% that is out there and then to strive for it.”

This is what Moshe meant when he said “This is the thing that God commanded you to do…” because it’s already hard enough to make “100% profit” on serving God, and if we start introducing all these complicated intentions it’s even more difficult. Rather, any mitzvah we do, we should do because this is what God commanded us to do. Sometimes the “profit” we make in a day will only be 20%, yet that’s a holy 20% because we did that for God. The next day we should strive for a “profit” of 25%, 30%, whatever you can do to better serve Hashem to the best of your ability for that is really all He wants, for us to serve him the best that we can. Even if we settle for a little, that little can go a long way. In truth if you made $100 today you would want $200 the next day, so why not apply the same desire for more to spiritual matters as well, if you served Hashem even a tiny bit today, do for Him a tiny a bit more tomorrow. And by doing this we can merit the end of the pasuk; “the glory of Hashem will be upon you.” (9:6)

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