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We learn a lot about the side benefits we get from doing mitzvot, as well as different segulot that we could do to get extra Heavenly help. It is important to know that we don’t fully understand how and when Hashem rewards. I once went over to a man whose daughter got married after waiting many years. I told him, I heard you did a machsom l’fi- getting a lot of people not to speak lashon hara for forty days and on the fortieth day you discovered the boy who eventually became your son-in-law.
The man said, ‘Yes, that’s true, but we have been doing things in the zechut of my daughter to get married for the last ten years. How could we ignore all of those zechuyot, saying that it was this that did it? It must have been everything combined and this was the final zechut that brought about our salvation.”
It is wonderful to see when our efforts produce the benefits that we seek. But what happens when we don’t see the blessings coming, and it appears that the mitzvot and segulot do not benefit us? A couple of weeks ago, we mentioned a Chazal which says that a woman who is modest will merit to have children who are fit to become kohanim gedolim-high priests, just like the righteous woman Kimchit, who, because of her exceptional modestly, merited to have seven children become kohanim gedolim. A woman sent an email in reply saying, many years ago, she fell into the category of a modest woman. She conformed to the halacha at the highest levels and beyond. She truly believed in the segula and looked forward to the special children she would have. But as the years passed and her children grew, she became totally disillusioned with the concept of tzniut. One by one, her children started going off the derech. What became of the segula, she thought? She felt deceived; her heart was shattered. As she became embittered, she became disenchanted with tzniut and has dropped many aspects of it, that she so lovingly adhered to once upon a time. What chizuk could we give this woman?
Another woman said she has been doing things to gain merits to get married for almost twenty years, but she’s still not married. How do we deal with that?
First of all, we must reiterate, we don’t understand how Hashem rewards. As well, although it says the performance of a certain mitzvah opens up a pipeline for extra Heavenly help in a certain area, the person who did that mitzvah might have done other things that are blocking that Heavenly help from coming. Or, the person might not have performed the mitzvah the way it should have been performed. We must never change from doing a mitzvah because we didn’t get out of it what we expected. It is us who are deficient. The Torah and mitzvot are truth, whether we understand them or not.
The Gemara says a Rabbi by the name of Elisha ben Avuya once saw a father telling his child to go climb a tree and do the mitzvah of sending away the mother bird and taking the eggs. The boy followed his father’s instructions, but on the way back, he fell and died. After witnessing that, Elisha ben Avuya stopped believing in the Torah because it says that for respecting parents, the reward is long life, and also for sending away the mother bird, the reward is long life. How could that boy have died after doing those two mitzvot? The Gemara says if he would have known the real explanation of the Torah’s guarantee of long life, he would never have fallen from his faith. The reward for those mitzvot is long life in the World that is Eternal – in Olam Haba. It is goodness there, not here. We should never veer from the Torah to the right or to the left because, one day, Hashem Himself will explain what everything meant, and we will see how every word was perfect. For now, we must trust.
If a person has been let down after performing certain mitzvot and feels betrayed because he thought his life was going to improve as a result, he has a very valuable opportunity at hand. Moshe Rabbenu was told by Hashem to go to Pharaoh and take the Jews out of Mitzrayim. After he followed instructions, the work only got harder, so he asked Hashem, why wasn’t the promise being fulfilled? In truth, the promise was being fulfilled. It had to become worse in order for them to be able to leave, but it didn’t seem that way. Hashem then told Moshe how much He missed the Avot. They were all promised the Land of Israel, but they didn’t see it being fulfilled. They trusted that Hashem knew what He was doing and it was them who didn’t understand the promise fully. So many times they could have questioned, but they never did. And that is what Hashem bragged to Moshe Rabbenu about: For people to continue serving Him, even though it didn’t seem that the promises were being fulfilled. There will be times, as well, when we might feel that promises aren’t being fulfilled. It is at those times that we can show our real emunah and continue serving Hashem no matter what, saying, “I know this is truth, I’m going to do it anyway.” One day, Hashem will explain, for now we have to trust. Those who do this, will receive immeasurable rewards, in the future, for their faith.