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Parashat Hukat – Shift Your Attention to Others


“I will adopt two orphans!” Rebi Eliezer announced.

“How did you get the courage to take such a huge step?”

“I looked at my two boys and realized how little influence I really have over their education. There are so many factors that are out of my control!” 

I turned to G-d and said I will adopt two of your boys. Two orphans. And in that merit, please take care of my two boys, that they should grow up to be individuals that the Jewish nation will be proud of!

Sure enough, Rebi Eliezer’s two sons turned out to be two of the greatest and impactful Jewish leaders for European Jewry, known as Reb Zusha and Reb Elimelech.

 Life has a long shopping list of needs.

Whether it is physical health, emotional health, or financial stability, we strive to provide all of these for ourselves and family. 

It gets tough.

There is a whole culture of self-help out there. Empowering us to do the best we can in fulfilling and providing for our needs and those we care about.

However Judaism  teaches us a novel tool for fulfilling these needs.

A deep tool that is counter intuitive. It isn’t found in any of the self-help books, although it’s timeless wisdom has withstood generations!! 

Attend to the needs of others. Place their needs before yours.

Adopting the needs of others as our own signals to G-d that we don’t want to be on the receiving end of care, we want to be on the giving side. We want to provide, care, and help for those that may need it. We place ourselves into the arena of caretaker. We are taking a parental role in his creation.

That kind of behavior awakens in G-d a reciprocal reaction.

Our sages explains that when we go out of our comfort zones, when we awaken our empathy and adopt a stranger, we awaken a Divine attitude of empathy. Our actions, behavior and attitude influence the way G-d interacts with us.

After all, let’s think about it. Can you compare the feeling of a child excelling to the feeling of seeing one’s children care for one another? 

That powerful gush of parental emotion destroys any barriers. It leaves G-d with no choice but to shower His children with blessings – whether they excel or not! Our care for one another reaches the highest reservoir of blessing, and causes the most awesome effect on all his children! 

Wishing you and your family a Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Mendy