13 Tamuz 5779 / Tuesday, July 16, 2019 | Torah Reading: Pinchas
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Are we, the epitome of G-d’s creation, lower than an ant? How many times do we put our personal needs aside in order to further a collective goal?


Today I saw something incredible. I was walking home from the grocery market, pushing a stroller full of kids and groceries, when something on the ground caught my eye. At first I thought it was some type of giant insect, but upon further inspection I saw it was an ant pulling a huge cereal-type cookie. I marveled at the strength of this ant, and then I saw it wasn’t alone. There was another much larger ant scurrying around the cookie, first to one direction, then the other direction, then back next to the smaller ant. I’m telling you, I could almost hear them communicating! It was clear that this larger ant was assessing the situation to see if there might be a more efficient way of pulling the cookie. Finally, after a minute, the larger and grabbed onto the cookie not far from the smaller one, and together they pulled it all the way to their ant home.
Okay, first, you might say I have too much time on my hands. Actually, I don’t, but it was too fascinating to pass up. Second, you might ask what’s so special about a couple of ants pulling a piece of food. I’m so glad you asked! What struck me first was the size of the cookie compared to the ant. I would compare it to a human pulling a boulder across the road with his teeth, which I have yet to see someone do. The other amazing thing was that this ant didn’t eat that cookie right then! Instead, his mission was to bring the treasure back to the main base. If it were me, I would have gobbled up that cookie so fast, no one would have even realized I found it! So I discovered that I have less willpower than an ant. Great.
The really cool part of this entire scene was watching the ants’ interaction with each other. Although I couldn’t hear what they were saying, I’m sure they weren’t complaining that the piece of cookie was too big and heavy, or they were tired, or the job was just too hard. No, they kept on working together for a common goal, not paying attention to their own personal needs or discomforts. It’s amazing what profound lessons a person can learn if their spiritual eyes are open.
It got me thinking…are we, the epitome of G-d’s creation, lower than an ant? How many times do we put our personal needs aside in order to further a collective goal? How many times do we work together despite our differences in opinion, background, or politics? Here were two obviously different levels of ant working together to get that yummy cookie into the ant hole, where it would be enjoyed by all. I don’t think they give out medals of honor in the ant hole. Yet they did their job. Why are we always looking for an excuse out of a hard job or something that requires teamwork? Or, if we do agree to do something, why do we feel we deserve accolades or ice cream at the end? What happened to doing things without a personal agenda?
These days we must re-examine our priorities. I just received an email from a student at Rav Arush’s yeshiva about the possible turbulent times ahead. It really got to me. The email relayed Rav Arush’s message that it is time to return to Hashem in any way we can. If you don’t put on tefilin, start now. If you don’t keep kosher, start now. If you don’t keep family purity, start now. Anything you can do to create a stronger connection between you and The Creator, now is the time. Most importantly, help spread emuna to those around you. Hand out a cd or a book. Each person you help to do teshuva will be in your merit forever. Klal Yisrael are considered one body, with each of us making up different parts. There are so many mitzvoth that can only be done together, such as prayer in minyan, Kaddish, and Kedusha. We have to pull together because each positive action puts us that much closer to bringing Mashiach with mercy. In this way, even though we don’t see it, we are working together towards a greater good. Let’s not remain below the level of the ants. It’s time to use our team-working skills, and may we all merit to bring Mashiach with peace and witness the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, Amen!

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