This Weeks Haftorah
Rabbi Levi Langer

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"For lo! the day comes, burning like an oven, when all the sinners and the doers of evil will be like straw, and the sun which comes will consume them." (Malachi 3:19)

The Midrash adds: The Gehinna of the time to come will be none other than the sun, which will come and consume the wicked.

According to Rabbi Chaim Friedlander, this Midrash contains an important lesson. So often, he writes, people delude themselves into thinking that their lives are chock-full of good deeds. They aren't interested in examining themselves closely to discover where they need improvement. So they simply convince themselves that they're already just fine.

But there will come a day when they will be placed beneath the harsh merciless light of the stark, unadulterated truth--and then they will no longer be able to maintain this fiction. All through their lives they managed to delude themselves. but the light of that forthcoming day will be their Gehinna.

Rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler, the noted thinker and ethicist, was wont to tell a story about his father, who had been a successful lumber merchant in Russia. When the Bolshevik uprising began, with all the turmoil and instability that it engendered, he sold his holding and converted it all into cash, which he placed in a large chest. He planned to restart his business after things quieted down.

But the Bolsheviks emerged victorious, and one of the first things they did was to invalidate the old currency and issue a new one in its place. The entire chest of cash was rendered worthless.

So it is, said Rabbi Dessler, with our own lives. We convince ourselves that we've amassed a great big chestful of accomplishments which we'll one day proudly exhibit up in heaven. But woe to us if when we arrive, we discover that it's all in a coinage which isn't accepted there!

We've got to carefully examine the currency while we're amassing our chestful of deeds, right here on this earth.

Copyright (c) 1997 by Rabbi Levi Langer

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