29 Iyar 5781 / Tuesday, May 11, 2021 | Torah Reading: Bamidbar
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HomeFoundations of JudaismJewish Daily Life and HalachaKeep Your Promise!
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Keep Your Promise!    

Keep Your Promise!

In machines, a specific button creates a specific reaction. God built into Creation a system that if we press the right "buttons," we get the right blessings!


“And you shall keep My statutes and My ordinances which a person should perform and live by them, I am Hashem”.  (Leviticus/Vayikra 18:5) 

It is told that once a young man abandoned his traditional Orthodox Jewish upbringing, and desired to travel around the world. He asked his father for money for the trip. His father told him, “I am ready to give you the money for the trip, on the condition that you put on Tefillin every day”. The son promised, and his father gave him some money, which was enough for the first few days. He told his son that he will send him more money later for the rest of his trip. 

After a few days, the son called the father, asking for the rest of the money. The father asked him, “Are you putting on your Tefillin?” “I am putting them on every day”, the son answered. The father said, “I have already found a way to send you the money.” A few days passed, and the son asked for the money again, and the father asked again if he put on Tefillin, and told him again that he found a way to send him the money. This happened a few times, until the son completely ran out of money, even to purchase food, so he came back home. 

The son was angry at the father, and said: “How could you abandon me like this when you promised to give me money for my trip?!” The father said, “Bring me your Tefillin”. When he brought it to him, he opened the Tefillin bag and showed him a large amount of money stashed in the Tefillin bag. If the son had even opened the Tefillin bag once, he would have found the money immediately, thus he had clear proof that the son never put on Tefillin during his trip. The son saw that his deceit was revealed, and he realized how he had mistreated his father, so he engaged in self-reflection, and from then on, he began donning Tefillin daily. 

From this story, we can learn a Mussar lesson about how the Jewish People act in relation to our Father in Heaven. We often see Jews make promises to become stronger in their Mitzvah observance, and they wait for their reward for this that they fulfill these mitzvot, and expect good blessings. However, in the end, they do not fulfill their promises, and they come with complaints against Hashem that He did not bless them for their devotions, so why should they continue in these devotions? They forget that they themselves are guilty, as they did not keep their promise which would have brought them these good blessings. 

The famous Gaon the Chofetz Chaim zt”l describes a parable we can compare this to. A man came to a wealthy man asking him to hire him as his butler, and the wealthy man acquiesced and hired him, marking this hiring in his notebook that this man was hired from this particular day. Subsequently, the butler abruptly abandoned his post, and did not come to work, but after a few years he came to the wealthy man asking for his salary for the days he did not work. The foolishness of this butler is obvious. 

This is, however, exactly how we treat Hashem. We accept the Yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven upon ourselves every morning, and ask Hashem to give us benefits, but we immediately forget this, and fail to serve Him and to keep His mitzvot, and yet we have the audacity to ask Hashem why He is not giving us the benefits we request. 

Therefore, one must contemplate how the Holy Torah has 613 mitzvot, which are like 613 buttons on a machine. Just as when you press a button on a machine, the machine performs a certain action. So too, when a Jew, who has a holy soul that is a piece of the Divine from Above, performs a mitzvah with his body, then this causes part of the Creation to perform a particular action, and makes a mark in the Higher Worlds, which are fed from the mitzvot. This causes good actions in This World, as it is written in the Torah, “if you follow My Statutes… I will give your rains in their proper time” etc. 

Similarly, the great Rabbi Moshe Sofer, Chasam Sofer zt”l, wrote (Parshat Beshalach), “I say, there is no such thing as a mystical Segulah in the world. Our lack of scientific knowledge makes things appear to be supernatural. If Hashem would reveal all scientific secrets of nature, we would see that just as science teaches that a magnet naturally attracts metal, so too we would understand that eating forbidden fats directly leads to spiritual Karet (excision), and idol worship withholds rain. Conversely, we would clearly see the correlation between the performance of Mitzvot and blessings of spiritual and physical bounty. Everything is totally natural, only the science hasn’t reached this level yet.” 

Similarly, mitzvot are like buttons on a machine. Most of the time, one cannot see how pushing a button causes the machine to operate. Sometimes the button is on a remote control that is not even connected to the machine. Today we can see that pushing a button millions of miles away can have an effect. A century ago, nobody would imagine such a thing could really happen, but the scientific revelation of hidden electromagnetic waves in the air demonstrates that such a thing is possible. 

So too, when we speak of performing the mitzvot, we need to know that within the space of the universe there are hidden energy waves of tuma’ah (spiritual impurity) and taharah (spiritual purity), and these waves operate to have effects upon the entire creation. When we say special words such as Torah study or reciting Kryiat Shema, etc., or particular deeds with special items or devices, with very particular specifics on how they are to be made and used, such as Tefillin, Tzitzits, Sukkah, Lulav, Matzah, Shofar, etc., we have positive effects upon Creation. 

Therefore, just as it is when someone fails to push a button on a machine, nothing will happen, if someone does not perform the mitzvot, it is impossible to complain if he does not receive the blessing that only comes through performing the mitzvot. 

This is what Scripture is telling us here, “and you shall keep My statutes and My ordinances”, fulfill all of the mitzvot, “which a person shall perform them”, only if you actually do the mitzvot in this material world, then “and you shall live by them”, you will bring upon yourself the blessings of a good life which are accomplished by the performance of the mitzvot, and only then will a person come to realize the truth of the statement “I am Hashem”, as He is the One Who is faithful to pay our good rewards. 


The Kalever Rebbe is the seventh Rebbe of the Kaalov Chasidic dynasty, begun by his ancestor who was born to his previously childless parents after receiving a blessing from the Baal Shem Tov zy”a, and later learned under the Maggid of Mezeritch zt”l. The Rebbe has been involved in outreach for more than 30 years, and writes weekly emails on understanding current issues through the Torah. You can sign up at www.kaalov.org  


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