|The Torah Connection-Behar-The Benefits of Eating Mush|
|Written by Rabbi Yaakov Shlomo Weinberg|
“Just as these mitzvos regarding Shemittah were given at Sinai, so were all the mitzvos given at Sinai.”
A number of years back I gave a short talk to a group of individuals involved in kiruv.
At that talk I stressed the importance of giving over the concept (which I’ve used on a number of occasions in these pages) of the Vertical Caesar versus the Horizontal Caesar.
One of the participants at the above talk stated afterwards that that concept would not carry the day with the groups of various and divergent forms of non-Torahisms that he deals with since they are firmly convinced of the efficacy and eternal value of the charitable acts and good deeds in which they are involved.
And rightly so – however …
On The Benefits of Eating Mush
During a periodic medical examination the doctor asked Mr. Anderson to detail for him what he consumes at his meals.
A Piping Hot Breakfast
“Well Doctor, I believe in starting out the day with a nourishing breakfast so I make myself two piping hot bowls of oatmeal.
As you yourself know, Doctor, oatmeal contains protein and iron, and best of all it can help reduce cholesterol. To top it off it contains no sodium or trans fat.”
“Okay, Mr. Anderson. What do you have for lunch?”
“For lunch I have one bowl of oatmeal.”
“Again oatmeal? Well, what do you have for supper.”
“Well, supper is the main meal of the day so I have three bowls of oatmeal.”
“More oatmeal?! Don’t you eat anything else?”
“Of course, Doctor. Before I turn in at night I have my night cap – one bowl of oatmeal. As you yourself know, Doctor, oatmeal contains …”
The above story will pass without comment except to say that the human body has many needs and one type of food, no matter how advantageous, will not cover all the bases.
From a somewhat different angle, there are also many aspects of a person’s life which need to be investigated and dealt with. There is information to be gotten and decisions to be made. We’re speaking from a purely mundane, not a religious aspect.
How to raise children, schooling issues, career choices, business decisions, when to buy, when to sell, how to stay solvent, interpersonal relationships, how to buy/sell a car, home, appliance, etc. and their particulars.
There are so many different aspects of life that one must endeavor to be on top of and knowledgeable of. If a person allows it these matters can take up one’s life 24/6. All this to be successful during one’s proverbial seventy years. Can one then assume that for eternal life, a diet of only oatmeal, given all its benefits, will suffice?! Granted that charitable acts and good deeds are of tremendous importance. But can that be all there is? They are only one pillar that supports the world. The other two pillars needed are Torah (learning and keeping) and service of Hashem which includes davening (prayer).
In fact, “… Hashem wanted to confer merit on Yisroel so He gave them Torah and mitzvos in abundance…”
A Free Pass to Eternity?
From all of the above it is incredulous to assume that charity and good deeds, as great as they are, are enough to get a free pass for eternity. Besides which, charity and good deeds doesn’t really mean every now and then or here and there. Rather, perhaps, more often than not, it means opening one’s door three to four times a day to indigents, besides the various appeals that are constantly coming up. It means being on call 24/7 for medical emergencies if one is part of Hatzalah, including in the middle of the Seder which I understand happened recently. It means being available for all kinds of help and making available all kinds of Gemachs if one is part of a N’shei group such as N’shei Ahavas Chesed of New York.
To paraphrase the above Chazal, “Hashem wanted to confer merit on Yisroel so He gave them many, many opportunities to do chesed and give charity.”
“The day (life) is short, there is much to accomplish, the laborers are lazy, the reward is great and the Master (Hashem) pushes.”
1 Leviticus 25:1 Rashi.
2 Giving others an understanding of Judaism.
3 Man’s pursuit of pleasure, power, etc. is ultimately meaningless in that its only value is when one is vertical but is of no value whatsoever when one becomes eternally supine. It behooves one, therefore, to accumulate eternal values.
4 When I was a kid it was called “mush.” Maybe it still is. I don’t recall it being a derogatory appellation. That’s just what it was – “mush.”
5 Pirkei Avos 1:2
6 Last mishnah in Makkos.
7 Avos 2:20