The next phrase in the prayer Baruch Sheamar is “ברוך משלם שכר טוב ליראיו- Blessed is Hashem that pays a good reward to those that fear him.”
There are two questions that need to be asked – 1) Why is G-d paying us anything to follow the Torah? And 2) what is meant by the phrase a “good reward”?
The answer to the first question is that it is beyond logic why G-d offers mankind reward to fulfill the Torah. אבינו מלכנו- He is our Father, our King- He sets up the rules and we should follow them. Did you ever see a policeman give a reward to somebody driving within the speed limit? So why does Hashem promise eternal benefit to those that keep the laws and serve Him? The simple answer is because G-d is magnanimous and benevolent. We must appreciate the unique reward system that G-d has set up for us for just doing what we are supposed to do.
The commentary Iyun Tefillah answers the second question and explains the phrase “good reward.” He remarks that the word Tov-good means an everlasting and eternal good. Therefore the good reward that is being mentioned in the Tefillah is not just good, rather it is an eternal reward that can span this world as well as the World to Come.
This interpretation reflects the Talmudic teaching in Kiddushin 39b which advances the notion that the entire world with all of its natural and developed riches does not contain enough worth to compensate the fulfillment for even one Mitzvah. Therefore all of the prayer, study and Chessed that is accomplished in life will bring forth a good, fitting and eternal reward.
Take Home Tip: Even though we cannot see the big picture, we must remain cognizant that it exists. Even though we cannot see the great rewards that await he/she that achieves spiritual excellence through the study of Torah and the fulfillment of Mitzvoth in this world as well as the next, just knowing that the rewards are present fuels our positive efforts to achieve. As the verse states: “ברוך משלם שכר טוב ליראיו – Blessed is Hashem that pays a good reward to those that fear Him”.
Rabbi Epstein, Congregation Sons of Israel Cherry Hill NJ
Orthodox Union Department of Community Engagement
Rabbi Judah Isaacs, Director
Hannah Farkas, Program Manager
Adina Schwarzbaum, Administrative Assistant