Monday, January 16, 2012

Reaching the Palace

Art: Maronski
Our Rabbis have said "This world is like an antechamber and the World to Come is like the palace; prepare yourself in the antechamber so that you may enter the palace" [Avot 4:17]

No one does anything except for a purpose. If the goal is important enough, no effort and no trouble are too much to attain it. We find, for example, that Yaakov Avinu worked seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him as a few days because of his love for her.

Now, the purpose of the whole of creation, and thus of the whole world, is the World to Come. For such a purpose as this, one should be willing to face all the difficulties and obstacles of this world with a good heart, after all, there is no other way to reach one's King.

The story is told of a savage who knew nothing of the value of gold, silver or precious stones. As a reward for saving the king's life, he is taken into the royal treasury, provided with a number of sacks, and told to fill them from whatever he sees on the shelves and take them to his home.

The savage misunderstands the situation and is under the impression he is being punished by forced labor for some unknown wrongdoing. He starts working, but soon notices that no one is watching. He promptly goes to sleep and even when he wakes up, he works as slowly as possible. At the end of the day the sacks are almost empty.

When he is sent away with the sacks over his shoulder he is pleased with himself. If I had obeyed their orders, he thinks, I would have had to work hard all day and then had a lot of heavy sacks to carry. But when he meets some of his more knowledgeable companions and tells them his story, he soon learns what a fool he has been. He realizes - too late - that he should have worked with a will during that one precious day when the treasure was his for the taking.

This is exactly how we shall look when we get to the World to Come, the world of truth, where the yetzer hara, the evil inclination, and its deceptions have no more place. Here in this world, the world of falsehood, where the yetzer hara rules, all our value judgments are distorted.

The happy man is the one who recognizes true values while he is still in the preparatory antechamber - this world. He will find his ultimate happiness in the Palace. But he rejoices too even in the hard and unremitting toil of this world. He knows the true value and final results of his labours.

Source: Michtav M'Eliyahu by Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler zt"l, adapted by B. D. Kvutzat

No comments: