12 Kislev 5781 / Saturday, November 28, 2020 | Torah Reading: Vayeitzei
 
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Lessons from a Madman    

Lessons from a Madman



The evil get paid in full for their merits in a way that justice comes to them and to those they harmed. The righteous also get paid in full measure for their deeds…

 



The richest man in the world was not Bill Gates. It wasn’t Warren Buffet.  It was the former leader of Libya. When he died, investigators found he possessed over $200 billion in companies, financial assets, and yes – golden pistols.
 
The Torah teaches us that life is not about the race. It’s not about eating our fellow alive so we can take by force what is rightfully his.
 
If this is the case, how do we explain the unprecedented success of Muammar Qaddafi? Was there ever a man who lived that had so much? How do reconcile the reality we are supposed to strive for with the one before our eyes?
 
There are five lessons which resolve this dilemma:
 
ONE, we get paid for the good we do in this world.  There is no concept of good deeds offsetting bad ones. No matter how much bad we do, a mitzvah is a mitzvah and Hashem will repay all of us in kind. This is good news for those of us who feel a bit shy towards Torah because we feel that we are not “worthy enough.” Some of us fear that due to a not so Kosher past, or not being ready to take on any major commitments yet – we somehow don’t deserve to taste a Torah lifestyle. We should realize that Qaddafi, who spend a lifetime stealing, starving others, and committing outright murder was rewarded in full for the handful of good things he did in his lifetime. He supported his kids. He lavished all sorts of monies and favors on his loyalists. He even helped the West capture terrorists. He may have done it for his own interests but they were good deeds nonetheless.
 
TWO, for those of us who do not hold to a proper standard of moral conduct, Hashem pays us our full measure of merit in this world. G-d rewards us in this world to our end. Many of us see tremendous financial windfalls come not because we are such great people, but so there will be nothing left in our accounts when we leave this existence and face our Judgment. Instinctively we perceive the rich and powerful as great men who stand above everyone else. In Truth, many of them are being given everything in this limited existence so when it’s time to experience the joy of the Next World, they will have nothing to their merit. We learn in Rabbi Luzzato’s The Path of the Just, that we compete for everything in this world. We knock ourselves out trying to have so much as a nicer front door than our neighbors. It kills us when we see others doing so much better. In the Next World, where our possessions are based on the mitzvoth and good deeds we did in this world, we will seethe with envy as we watch people who “had less” in this world “make out” so much better in the Next one. Qaddafi’s $200 billion was not a Divine Gift. It was severance check.
 
THREE, the value of a mitzvah is beyond measure. For the handful of good deeds Qaddafi did he was rewarded in full. There is no way to physically quantify a spiritual deed. A mitzvah is the action of brining a piece of Eternity to this limited world. How do you measure Infinity? The closest we can come is a rough estimate. Hashem helps us by giving examples. For the few of good deeds Qaddafi did in his entire life, Hashem gave him $200 billion. Imagine what awaits us for the mitzvoth we perform in a single day.
 
FOUR, it’s better to receive our full measure of reward in the Next World. What can anyone do with $200 billion? There comes a point where we simply don’t need that much money. Once all of our basic needs are met, our families are taken care of, and we have enough to satisfy our material desires for life, the money becomes superfluous. With $10 million in the bank the interest alone can take care of all our needs. What do we need more for? Perhaps that much money is not such a blessing, especially if it distracts us from our life’s mission? Will we spend all this money in our lifetime? Probably not. Did Qaddafi? Possessing obscene amounts of money can be a warning that we are being rewarded in this world in full, but we don’t get to enjoy all of it. Qaddafi didn’t use a cent of the $200 billion he left behind in this world, but his Heavenly Accounts show a paid in full next to his merits.
 
Accepting less in this world for more in the Next is a logical, and at the same time, difficult Truth to digest.
 
What if Hashem knows this? Is this the reason why the righteous, and those like many of us who strive for righteousness possess less? Could this be Hashem withholding our True merit for the right time?
 
FIVE, Hashem runs a just existence. The evil get paid in full for their merits in a way that justice comes to them and to those they harmed. The righteous also get paid in full measure for their deeds, but in a way where they suffer less for the bad they did, and rejoice even more for their holy actions.
 
When we view existence in its physical and spiritual totality, we see clearly that Hashem maintains His world with exacting justice.
 
For both good and evil, what goes around does come around.

That’s what Emunahis all about.
 
 
* * *
Dovber Halevi is the author of the financial book, How to Survive the Coming Decade of Anxiety. He writes for Breslev Israel and The Middle East Magazine. He lives with his wife and two children in Eretz Yisrael.





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