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Ki Savo

by Rabbi Yaakov Menken

"And all the blessings will come upon you, and overtake you..." [28:2]

The language of this verse is very surprising. We are always anxious to see blessings. Who would not want to win the lottery? So why, then, does the Torah talk about blessings which "come upon us" as if we weren't looking for them, and "overtaking us" as if we were even running away?

The Sha'ar Bas Rabim answers: many times, people run away from something which is actually good for them, but they do not recognize as such. Since they do not see the good which will come from it, they think it is bad and attempt to escape it. Thus the Torah tells us that G-d will be so anxious to bless us, that the blessings will pursue us and "overtake" us, even if we try to run away.

This is the flip side of that which Rav Frand quoted from Rabbi Berel Wein in this week's RavFrand class: that people can receive terrific blessings which they are not "equipped to handle" such as movie stars and athletes (and, incidentally, lottery winners) who are often found to be miserable, divorced several times, finding that their "blessed" wealth helped to ruin their lives.

That which appears to be a blessing may be a curse, while, at the same time, that which appears to be a curse may be a blessing.

The Sha'ar Bas Rabim explains that this was King David's prayer in the Psalm [23:6], "May only good and kindness pursue me all the days of my life." His prayer was: may good and kindness pursue me, even when I do not realize what they are and run away. (And, of course, may they be the only things to pursue me.)

Today, my wife (a teacher in a local Jewish day school) brought home a book from the school library entitled "The Other Side of the Story" [Yehudis Samet, (c) 1996 Mesorah Publications (ArtScroll)]. It is filled with true stories and lessons concerning the Mitzvah to judge others favorably (Dan L'Kaf Z'chus), and more than one of these will strike "close to home" for most any reader.

It then occurred to me that there is a connection between the lesson of the Sha'ar Bas Rabim, and this book because our tendency to judge others unfavorably does not apply only to other human beings. We think we know so well what is "good" for us, that we complain to G-d! Why didn't I win the raffle? Why didn't this happen to me? Why did that happen to me?

[Of course, when we see this in other people, we leap to judge them unfavorably. There are those who lived through and experienced things which we did not experience at least in good part because G-d knows we could not handle them. So we have no right to judge others in this area above all else!]

When we find this tendency in ourselves, we must turn to the lesson the Torah is teaching us: G-d so wants to bless us, that He will send his blessings out to overtake us. That which we pray for, which we think will be so wonderful, might be a curse if it arrives when we are not equipped to handle it -- but, on the other hand, might be a tremendous blessing only a year later. Thus let us learn to be patient, to pray for our needs, and to remember -- that G-d knows what is good for us far more than we, and is anxious to send it our way.

Good Shabbos!

Rabbi Yaakov Menken

Text Copyright © 1998 Rabbi Yaakov Menken and Project Genesis,Inc.
The author is the Director of Project Genesis.



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