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Thursday, August 8, 2013

This World, The Next World, and Your Socks

The end was drawing near. Mr Wolf Lazerson, one of the richest Jews in the country was on his death bed with all his children surrounding him. "I have two last requests to make," he said in a weak voice. "The first is that you do not read my will until the shloshim, and the second is that you bury me with my socks on"

"But Dad," his son protested "halacha doesn't  allow such a thing."
"I don't care," Wolf said "that's what I want." No amount of convincing was going to change his mind. He insisted on keeping the socks on, and that was that. His children were disturbed knowing that their father insisted on doing something that he himself knew was contrary to halacha.

A few days later, the father was niftar and the children consulted a poseik who told them that their father's wish must be ignored and so he was buried without his socks. At the shloshim, they opened his will. "My dear Children," they read, "I left you a lot of money and a large estate. I wanted you to realize before dividing it up that in the end you can't take any of it with you - not even your socks. love, Dad."

and as Rabbi Dovid Kaplan concluded, a story like this can really knock your socks off.

In this weeks sedra, it says "VeLo takim lecha matzeva asher saneh Hashem Elokecha" 
"and you shall not make for yourselves a pillar..."
It is brought down in Pirkei Avot, this world is compared to a corridor leading up to the world to come. Fix yourselves in the corridor so you can enter the Banquet Hall. A person needs to be constantly aware that this world is fleeting and temporal. One must utilize all his worldly dealings and all his physical necessities as a preparation for the service of G-d, for the world to come.  Chazal often refer to "worldly pleasures" as "lecha" (literally "for yourselves")

Kedushas HaLevi teaches us that the Torah is saying "VeLo takim lecha matzeva..." and you shall not make the "Lecha" a pillar.  In other words, you shall not make your worldly pleasures into a pillar, i.e., into that which is strong, sturdy and everlasting, but rather, only as preparation for the world to come.

May we  merit to utilize all that Hashem gives us leTova.

The short story at the top was taken from Rabbi Dovid Kaplan's Lasting Impact - Short Stories with an Immediate Message - Awesome for the Shabbos Table!

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