In last week’s reading addresses the mystical concept of, “Blessings within curses.” One example: “You will be frightened night and day, you will not be sure of your livelihood.” Can there be a bigger curse than not knowing from where tomorrow’s meal will come? Contrast this with: “He fed you manna…in order to make you know that not by bread alone does man live, but by that which emanates from the mouth of Hashem!” According to this, real blessing is the knowledge that portfolios guarantee nothing; but a gracious G-d can always be counted upon for our livelihood.
This leaves us with the puzzle: Is uncertainty a blessing or a curse, and how can it be both? Let’s compare two stories.
Story 1: A tourist viewing Paradise is taken through the Pearly Gates. Inside, he sees a spacious study hall. Holy souls sit and study Torah with great fervor and joy. The din of their voices rises to a crescendo, and not once does anyone stop for even a moment to take a break.
Next stop is ‘downstairs, Purgatory’. Once again, he is shown a packed study hall. Confused, he turns to the angel. “I don’t understand, they look exactly the same!”
“Correct,” the angel says. “For one group, it’s Paradise; for the other, it’s Hell!”
Blessings and curses can coexist in one verse because one person’s curse is another’s blessing. One who has not cultivated his faith that income is ultimately up to G-d, then not knowing what the future holds is indeed a curse. As he struggles to cope (as we all do), he is fraught with anxiety. But for the person with a deep belief that all future prosperity is in the hands of G-d, ‘not knowing’ how He will provide does not remove the blessing he feels in his life.
Story 2: Day after day, Yankel the peddler drags his goods across the muddy roads of Poland. Once, Yankel hears the distinctive sound of a wagon approaching. It’s his lucky day, for the Jewish driver seeing Yankel schlepping along bowed under the weight of his baggage invites the peddler to hop aboard. Yankel happily accepts.
The wagon owner noticing Yankel still carrying his burden, asks: “Why don’t you put your bags down?”
Yankel replies: “I don’t want to be any trouble.”
“You fool!” the driver exclaims, “My horses are pulling you and all your wares anyway. It makes no difference whether you carry them on your shoulders or not!”
Foolish peddler! But isn’t there a little peddler in all of us? Don’t we know that our financial well-being is ultimately up to Him? True, one must put in the required effort; but ultimately it is Hashem, “Who sustains all His creations.”
But even as we acknowledge that material success is not solely dependent on us, we spend an inordinate amount of time fretting over it. So why do we vainly attempt to carry the psychological burden of making a living upon our shoulders?
Yankel, wake up! Throw down your burden – and let Hashem, Who carries us and all our needs, do His job. As King David exhorts us, “Hashleich al Hashem yehavcha (Throw your ‘baggage’ upon Hashem), V’hu yechalk’lecha (and He will sustain you).”
In fact, by “throwing down our peckele (burdens)” and letting Him carry our load, we begin to ‘see’ G-d providing for us. Simply put: The more we trust, the more His hand is ‘revealed’ in our lives.
We read of these ‘curses’ – which are in fact blessings in disguise just before Rosh Hashana. So while we wish and hope that the New Year brings success, affluence, and prosperity for all Jews – in its most simple sense – it is important to realize that blessing and curse are not absolute. They are relative terms, and depend on our attitude with which we approach the scenarios and circumstances that life dishes up.
So this year you have a choice. Either ask for a bigger package or ask to see the Wagon Driver who lifts you daily.
http://www.chabad.org/kids/article_cdo/aid/470263/jewish/The-Wagon-Drivers-Song.htm .. just for the children