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Weekly Chizuk


Thanks for Everything

If he is bringing it as a thanksgiving offering (Korban Todah)," [Vayikra 7:12]

"One who offers a thanksgiving sacrifice honors Me." (Tehillim 50:23). (The Medrash - Vayikra Raba 9:2 - makes note of the spelling of the word "honors Me" which contains 2 nuns instead of the proper 1 nun.) Rav Huna said in the name of Rav Acha, it doesn't say here "honors Me" rather it states "honors, honors Me" (darshaning the 2 nuns). Honor, upon honor.

The Medrash doesn't explain this drasha of "honors, honors me." What is the message that Dovid Hamelech is trying to impart to us by accenting the word "honors Me"?

Rashi delineates the 4 people who are required to bring the Thanksgiving offering to give thanks [to Hashem] for being rescued from danger. For instance, those who made a sea-voyage [and returned safely] or journeyed in the desert, or those who had been imprisoned [and were subsequently released], or a sick person who recovered. All these are required to give thanks [to Hashem], for concerning them, it is written, "They shall give thanks to the Lord for His kindness and for his wonders to the children of men."

The Ksav Sofer comments that in general we understand that one should give thanks for a miracle that occurred to him or when he was saved from danger. Really, in addition to this, we also have to thank Hashem for sending the problem itself. "Everything the Merciful One does is for the good!" (Brachos 60b). This tells us that even the problem itself is good for us. Perhaps it came to arouse us to turn away from our improper path. Or perhaps it is a prelude to some greater good. As Chazal tell us "Just as a person blesses the good with simcha, so too should he bless the bad" (Brachos 60b).

This is the significance of the possuk we recite in Hallel. Dovid Hamelech said, "I shall thank You because You answered me, and You were my salvation (Tehillim 118:21)." Customarily we translate the word as "answered me." Chazal, however (see the Malbim and Metzudas Dovid), tell us that the correct translation is "You afflicted me." Thus what Dovid was saying was, "I shall thank You because You afflicted me, and then You were my salvation saving me from that affliction." Perhaps this is the meaning of another possuk in Tehillim, "I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise is always in my mouth" (Tehillim 34:2). Dovid Hamelech said that he thanks Hashem for everything, even the troubles.

Thus, continues the Ksav Sofer, one who brings a thanksgiving sacrifice (Korban Todah), should realize that he is thanking Hashem not only for saving him from his difficulty, but also for putting him in the difficulty in the first place. This is the double meaning of "honors, honors." Double thanks.

With this we can understand the end of that possuk in Tehillim: : "One who offers a thanksgiving sacrifice honors Me, and [I will] prepare the way; I will show him the salvation of God." Quite often even one of extremely strong faith understands very well that everything is for his good and he sincerely thanks Hashem for even the bad times. However, he doesn't actually see what is so good about the difficulties or what benefit could emerge from it. However, in response for conducting himself on this elevated level and thanking Hashem for everything, Hashem in return will open his eyes and he will see clearly how the real salvation actually sprouted from the supposed bad. Thus it turns out that the very act of honoring and thanking Hashem for what appears bad, paves the way to see the salvation of Hashem in the "bad" itself turning into the best benefit. This is pshat in the possuk "I will show him the salvation of God." Once one acts with pure faith that the affliction was good and for the best, the Hashem will show him how.

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In Pesachim 50a it says that in this world (Olam Hazeh) we make two different Berachos: on good tidings we say, , "[Blessed are You]...Who is good and does good." And on bad tidings one says, , "...Who is the Judge of Truth." But in the Next World (Olam HaBa), we will make one berachah on everything: "Who is good and does good." Rav Eliyahu Dessler, zt"l (Michtav Me-Eliyahu, vol. III, p. 279), explains that in this world it is impossible to see clearly that "Everything that the Merciful One does is truly for our good." Even one on the level of Moshe Rabbeinu is obligated to make the berachah "the Judge of Truth" on something that he feels is bad, from the standpoint of this world. But in the Next World we will see clearly that all of God's actions are really intrinsically good. Therefore, there we will say on everything, "Who is good and does good." On this the Gemara cites the possuk: "On that day God will be One...." We will recognize that everything flows only from God Who runs everything with mercy. We see that the main understanding of God's glory is in the Upper Realms.

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The Ramban's Request

There is a famous story about the Ramban and one of his talmidim. The talmid was ill, and the Ramban saw that he was close to death. "I have a specific question," the Ramban said, "that can only be answered in a certain heichal in Gan Eden." (The concept of a heichal is obscure in the Gemara and the commentaries. The Gemara says that the soul learns Torah in a beis midrash in Heaven [Berachos 18b, Sotah 7b], and that it is constantly graduating from Heavenly yeshiva to yeshiva [see Shomer Emunim, Ma'amar Sechar Ve-Onesh, Perek 4,5]. It seems that a heichal connotes a certain level of attainment and understanding in Gan Eden. More than that is not clear from the standard sources. But the Ramban was reputed to have been very well-versed in Kabbalah, so he definitely knew more.) "Take this amulet," he told his talmid. "With it all the gates of all the heichalos will be open to you. When you get to this certain heichal ask this question that I have, because it pertains to the whole of Klal Yisrael." Then he wrote the question down and asked his talmid to return to him in a dream and tell him the answer.

The talmid died, and for several months nothing happened. But then, one night, as the Ramban was sitting by his window studying Torah, the talmid finally appeared. "Everything was exactly as you told me," he related. "Everywhere I went I showed the amulet you gave me and all the gates opened up for me. I rose through all the heichalos just like you said. And when I finally arrived in this heichal, I wanted to ask the question that you had prepared for me. But immediately I realized that there really are no questions - everything is so clear, everything is so just. But I cannot explain it to you, for you just won't understand it."

Gut Shabbos!

Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
4 Panim Meirot, Jerusalem 94423 Israel
Tel: 732-858-1257
Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Chizuk!" and "Trust Me!" (Feldheim Publishers), and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop Lakewood).
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