OU Torah Insights ProjectParashat Ki Tavo
One of the hallmarks of our Torah is its capacity to yield new meanings and fresh insights every week.
In Parshas Ki Savo, after a description of the mitzvah of bikkurim--the first fruits that were brought to Jerusalem and given to the kohein--the verse concludes: "You shall rejoice in all the good that Hashem your G-d gave you and your family--you and the Levite and the proselyte in your midst."
We are expected to perform this mitzvah with joy and enthusiasm. But how can this be? How can the Torah order us to rejoice in performing any mitzvah? Happiness often comes spontaneously and is difficult to orchestrate. Is it that simple to be happy?
Happiness is rare. Often, we witness people who have every reason to be happy, yet are not, and others who seem to be lacking, but are, in fact, happy.
The Rambam writes that by observing this mitzvah man becomes accustomed to acting generously, by sharing and learning to limit his desire for possessions.
A person can reach this supreme goal only through an inner feeling of happiness and goodness of the heart. Likewise, a lack of happiness will cause him to forsake Hashem's will.
We mistakenly consider a happy life to be one without problems. Certainly happiness does not depend on the multiplication of material possessions. A man with three cars is not three times as happy as a man with one car.
Rav Zaks, in his work, Zeved Tov, reminds us that material wealth does not always bring blessings with it. At times, the opposite is true. Therefore, "you shall rejoice in all the good that Hashem your G-d gave you and your family--you and the Levite and the proselyte in your midst."
By sharing one's bounty with the Levites and the needy, one can reach a state of happiness.
A true perspective on our possessions serves to remind us that they are given to us in trust, to use not only for our own pleasures but also in the service of others. The fact is that when we give, we give nothing that we ourselves have not already received.
Rabbi David RebiboRabbi Rebibo is rabbi of Congregation Beth Joseph in Phoenix, Arizona.
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