DAY 81 - The Spoils of War - The Task Becomes Easier
Shuffling along with his slight stoop, the man looked to be in his mid- 0’s. In fact, he was about 15 years younger but he was struggling under the weight of huge debts. He felt the heavy load at all times, even when he was not actively thinking about his financial situation, and somehow the weightiness of his thoughts had bent his back.
Today, however, his bent back gave him an advantage.
He was heading from his shop in the Diamond District where he worked as a watch repairman, staring as usual at the ground due to his hunched back, when he noticed a shiny object partially hidden by some garbage. He half-heartedly kicked the refuse aside, which revealed that the object was a watch. With a passing glance his trained eye realized that it was a Rolex and he thought, “Of course, just another cheap knock-off,” and was about to walk on, but then figured that he could always give it to his grandson. So he bent down to pick it up and his eyes widened. He immediately realized that this was the real McCoy, and it was a high-end model, worth upward of $25,000. He could easily sell this in an off-market site and the funds it would fetch would greatly reduce his burden. He flipped the watch over and his heart sank. Engraved, of course, was a serial number. All he had to do was make a couple of inquires to find out where the watch had been sold and he could locate the buyer. His mind was racing and he was struggling. The whole trip home he allowed himself to dream about the feeling of being debt free, of the menuchas hanefesh he would feel. But even before he stepped into his house, he knew he would return the watch. He came in, said hello to his wife, and after a couple of phone calls located the owner. The fellow was ecstatic. He came racing over to the finder’s home, of course in his high-end vehicle, picked up his watch, dropped off a nominal reward, and was off.
Whenever the watch repairman reflected back on this incident, he felt a great sense of satisfaction. He knew it wasn’t easy and he was proud of his decision. Although he was a very humble man, he clearly enjoyed it when his children would relate the story. He was proud of doing the right thing.
The funny thing was that over the next several years he twice had similar experiences. Once he found an expensive diamond on the floor as he was leaving the shop, and another time he saw a cash envelope drop from someone’s pocket. In both case he immediately informed the owner and experienced no struggle whatsoever. Not only that, he never reflected on those events.
The point of this mashal is this.
One derives pleasure from doing the right thing and the pleasure corresponds directly with the effort involved in doing it. People who lived through the Holocaust will often relate how they fulfilled a difficult mitzvah under trying circumstances, but will not reflect on the hundreds of times that they did that same mitzvah without those challenges. The difficulty itself generates the pleasure and satisfaction one feels from the accomplishments. And because performing the mitzvah was pleasurable, the mind naturally returns to it.
This natural inclination to reflect upon the good he had done made the man’s nisayon so much easier the next time and he did not even struggle. His mind had been trained to associate hashavas aveidah with pleasure, so doing so became much easier.
The same applies to kedushah.
Getting on track in inyanei kedushah is not easy, but when victory is achieved, it is accompanied by a deep feeling of satisfaction, specifically because it is so difficult. And this in turn makes the next battle much easier.