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No Pain, No Gain

A visitor to a Las Vegas casino watched in surprise as a fellow tourist pumped quarter after quarter into the soda machine, accumulating a massive quantity of Coke cans. Finally the bystander blurted out, “How many cans of Coke can one person drink?”

 The man turned to him and snapped, “What does it bother you if I keep winning?”

The allure of any game of chance is to get back much more than our initial investment. If we get back the exact value of what we put in, that is called making a purchase, not an investment. When a farmer plants a crop, his intent is to harvest far more seeds than he planted. Simply to break even – to grow the same number of grains as he put into the ground – would not justify the time and energy expended.

Similarly, G-d sends each soul down to this world with a mission. We are provided with an initial outlay of energy and resources to enable us to carry out the Divine plan. However, it’s up to us to do the plowing and sowing – to reap far more than our original investment. We can influence our surroundings in many different ways, through teaching Torah, observing mitzvot and performing acts of kindness.

This is true of the life of each individual, but on a broader scale, this is what we are doing over the entire course of exile. G-d sent us out of our land and dispersed us to all ends of the world, to plant the seeds of holiness and kindness and to reap spiritual bounty – with the coming of Moshiach.

This theme is reflected in the two Torah portions of this week, Tazria (planting) and Metzora (leper). The Torah portion of Metzora begins, “This shall be the Torah of the leper.” In some sources, the parshah is not called Metzora but by its first two words, “Zot Tihye,” this shall be. The Torah gives its assurance that if we spend our time in this world properly and do our plowing and sowing, there will definitely be a return on our investment. There will be a Redemption, a geulah, when we will see the reward for our toil in exile.

The two parshiyot of Tazria and Metzora parallel exile and redemption. When they are read in the same week, as this year, it emphasizes that our efforts and planting in exile lead directly to the reward in the Redemption. Although the exile is prolonged and may feel endless, without purpose, we have a promise in the Torah that the earth will yield its fruits. We will yet see how our efforts in exile bring forth the fruits of Redemption.

As long as we are in the stage of exile, there is still time to plant, to invest. The more we put in now, the greater will be our yield with the ultimate Redemption. We must never make our peace with the current situation, but continue planting with the knowledge and anticipation that we are thereby hastening the Redemption. That will be the true “win,” for ourselves and the entire world.
 

 


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