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Earthly Rewards for Heavenly Service?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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“If you follow My statutes and observe My commandments and perform them, I will give your rains in their time, the Land will yield its produce, and the tree of the field will give forth its fruit...” (Numbers 26:3-4).

Reward and incentive must be condign for their recipients. When a child cleans his room he is awarded a candy or toy, and when the electrician rewires a home he is awarded a (rather handsome...) check for his efforts. You would be hard pressed to find a competent electrician willing to do any job for, say, three candies an hour! Similarly, the spiritual person views material wealth with disdain. In his eyes, this world and all its luxuries are merely a means towards an end; with the service of his Creator and the spiritual heights and rewards achieved by their means as the ultimate prize. Why, then, does the Torah inundate us with assurances of material prosperity as compensation for our good deeds? Where are the promises of supernal pleasures in a spiritual Paradise? Or better yet, shouldn’t the Torah describe the greatness of service which stems from a deep love for G-d, without any thoughts of reward or compensation?

the physical and spiritual are but one body and are entirely interdependent, so the Torah’s rewards must “trickle down” into the physical realm as well
The teachings of Kabbalah, are called the “nishmata d’oraita,” the “soul” of the Torah. The soul, which is not perceptible to the naked eye, animates the body of every living creature. So, too, the teachings of Kabbalah infuse life within the “body” of the Torah, revealing the spiritual implications inherent – but hidden – within every word and law mentioned in the Bible, Mishnah, or Talmud.

The world, too, is comprised of body and soul. The body consists of the physical mass as well as the more spiritual elements of creation, such as logic, emotions, pleasure, etc. G-d’s Ten Utterances are the soul, which constantly provide existence, life, and sustenance, to all created beings. Just as the soul is the driving force of every function of the body, so, too, Creation is completely dependent on its spiritual soul.

Studying the soul of Torah reveals the soul of Creation. The teachings of Kabbalah, especially as explained by the Chassidic masters, shed light upon the true nature of Creation, unlocking its inner dimension, and allowing every person to intellectually perceive the G-dly essence of all that exists.

The spiritual rewards which result from serving G-d are to be expected—logically, spiritual service spawns spiritual benefits. In truth, however, the physical and spiritual are but one body and are entirely interdependent, so the Torah’s rewards must “trickle down” into the physical realm as well. If the rewards were limited to the spiritual arena, that would demonstrate a non-existent of a schism between the two seemingly opposite entities. The physical rewards mentioned in the Torah are thus an expression of the unity and harmony between Creation and its Creator.

So treat your soul to a class on the soul of the Torah, and your eyes will then be opened to the soul of creation. The bodies too will gain from this experience: your understanding and appreciation of the “body” of Torah will increase, you will make the “body” of the world into a holier place, and G-d’s blessing will be showered upon your body as well! 


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RELATED CATEGORIES

Torah » Kabbalah » Kabbalistic Concepts

Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Chassidic
(Pl.: Chassidim; Adj.: Chassidic) A follower of the teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of "Chassidut." Chassidut emphasizes serving G-d with sincerity and joy, and the importance of connecting to a Rebbe (saintly mentor).
Kabbalah
Jewish mysticism. The word Kaballah means "reception," for we cannot physically perceive the Divine, we merely study the mystical truths which were transmitted to us by G-d Himself through His righteous servants.
Mishnah
First written rendition of the Oral Law which G-d spoke to Moses. Rabbi Judah the Prince compiled the Mishna in the 2nd century lest the Oral law be forgotten due to the hardships of the Jewish exiles.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.