Parshat Ki Teitsei 5783: Weighing One’s Reward for Mitzvot in Olam HaBa?

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShavua, Parshat Ki Teitzei is being co-sponsored anonymously lilui nismas Devorah bat Yechiel Michel Of Blessed Memory and by Reuven and Leah Goldman of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated in honor of all those who need shidduchim and for a refuah shelaima for all cholei yisrael! To our anonymous co-sponsor and to the Goldman family, many thanks for your co-sponsorships and for your continued kindnesses and good wishes

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring (or as the case may be, co-sponsoring) a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Parshat Ki Teitsei 5783: Weighing One’s Reward for Mitzvot in Olam HaBa?

by Moshe Burt

Shem Mishmuel, in his Sefer, “Selections on the Weekly Parashah and Festivals” (rendered to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski) writes quoting Rav Abba bar Kahana who said:

“Hashem says, ‘Do not sit and weigh the Mitzvos of the Torah… Don’t say “Since a particular mitzvah is significant, I will do it because it’s reward is great, and since another mitzvah is less significant, I won’t do it.”‘ (Shem Mishmuel on Parsha Ki Teitzei, pg. 409-411)

Shem Mishmuel echos a concept (ibid) often addressed on this blog, that:

Hashem did not reveal to his creations the reward for any particular mitzvah, so they should perform each mitzvah with perfection.

Apparently, the more effort that goes into mitzvah performance, the greater the reward that will be reaped.

In order to do so, we must first address a… problem: the nature of the reward for mitzvah performance. Chazal tell us:

There is no reward for mitzvot in this world… The Gemara… relates a story of a person who died while sending away the mother bird at the behest of his father, thus performing both mitzvot [sending away the mother bird and honoring his parents], which should have given him long life. (Shem Mishmuel citing Sefer Devarim, Perek 22, posuk 7, Sefer Shemot, Perek 20, posuk 12) Where was this person’s long life? Rather, these promises refer to “days” which are eternally long [in Olam Haba]. (Shem Mishmuel citing Gemara Kiddushin 39b)

It is obvious that Olam HaBa is completely unlike anything which a mortal has experienced. It is utterly impossible to describe it or depict it in any way. Just as it is impossible to describe colors to a blind person, so too, it is impossible to depict Olam HaBa in human terms.

It is clear that Olam HaBa is an entirely intellectual or spiritual environment completely hidden from the physical, revealed world we inhabit. These two worlds are incompatible… and thus the reward one receives in Olam HaBa for actions carried out in Olam HaZeh cannot be revealed to mere mortals… Hashem guarantees that as a reward for these mitzvot, one will merit to receive a share in Olam HaBa, which is a world of infinite length and goodness. But the nature of the reward which is available there cannot be depicted in human terms.

It seems only reasonable that the nature of a mitzvah’s reward should alter according to the exact circumstances of its performance. Many factors, including the level of intellectual and emotional involvement with the mitzvah will determine the standard of the final product.

…Chazal warn against weighing the relative values of mitzvot in order to decide which to do and which not to do. Every mitzvah… provides a portion in Olam HaBa, whether “significant” or less so. But since the actual reward will always be dependent upon the quality of one’s intellectual involvement in the performance of the mitzvah, it is utterly impossible, and indeed, futile, to calculate the merit which will accrue to it.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin adds, in his sefer, “Growth Through Torah” this regarding Mitzvot and Olam HaBa (page 442) :

…Even when you are engaged in fulfilling a mitzvah, you must be sensitive to the pain and suffering of others. Do not use your involvement in a mitzvah as an excuse to disturb others.

In previous writings, the performance of mitzvot has been equated with the weight scale by asking; who among us mortals can know which mitzvah, even the smallest “Eikev” mitzvah, might just tip the scales, both in terms of any particular individual or on behalf of the collective national redemption of B’nei Yisrael? In short, having just entered the Elul season, “the days of awe” and the run up to the Yom HaDin, the Day of Judgement, we try honestly and objectively to look back, review and examine our actions over the past year and longer.

Shem Mishmuel concludes (ibid, page 411) :

We know that every mitzvah produces Olam HaBa, the observance of any one may generate a great or small reward. As such, we ought not to consider the relative merits of mitzvot, but instead perform every one with gusto and joy.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them, that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes and the oft-destroyed Yeshiva buildings in Homesh be rebuilt, all at total government expense; due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now in his third year at home in Eretz Yisrael and has embarked on a new chapter in his life. May Esther Yocheved bat Yechiel Avraham have an aliyah in Shemayim and may her spirit and memory continue to lift Jonathan to at least 120 years. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of nine years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese corona virus pandemic and all like viruses. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.