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Parashat Debarim – But, I want


A man is drowning in the ocean and prays to God for help. Moments later, a boat comes by and offers to help him, however, the man refuses. “I’m waiting for G-d to save me!” 

Shortly after, a helicopter appears. Once again, the man refuses any help, maintaining that he’s waiting for God’s help. 

Finally, a coast guard rescue swimmer comes into sight. But alas, the man does not accept help!

When he arrives at heaven’s gates, he turns to God and questions: “Why didn’t you come to save me??”

“Indeed, I came three times,” responds God, “but every time you pushed me away…” 

We often do the same in life. We believe the ultimate satisfaction exists elsewhere, in the bigger and better, when in truth the fulfillment we seek is in the here and now.

“There’s something else we need”, we tell ourselves. Whether it be more, different, or beyond reach, it’s the next thing that will “do it for me.”

As children, it can be a bigger toy; as young professionals, a better career. However, eventually the excitement we once believed was the answer falls away, leaving us wanting yet again.

The Talmud notes that the human desire for money and materialism is an insatiable one: when one receives 100, he then wants 200 – and so it goes, with the wish for more never waning. No matter the gain, the desire remains just as strong as at the outset, eternally unquenchable.

So what’s missing? Why do our wants have no predictable state of satiety?

True satisfaction does not come from following our wants, but from leading them.  

Replace the words “I want” with “why do I want?” It is when we unearth the core reason for each desire, setting a purpose for every want, which allows us to truly feel satisfied.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Mendy