Hashem’s Blessing to Israel – Measure for Measure
The expression, “I will command My blessing to you in the sixth year” (Leviticus 25:21) raises some questions. It is difficult to understanding the meaning of this verse, for a person normally does not express himself in such a way when giving a blessing. One would normally say, ‘I will bless you” or “I will give you my blessing.” However the expression “I will command” seems to have no meaning whatsoever.
This can best be explained in the following way: The Holy One, blessed be He, definitely does not want a person to live a life of suffering in this world. As a result, it is certain that before bringing him into the world, He has already prepared “provisions,” which are bundles of blessings that are ready to be sent to a person if he shows himself worthy of them. When a person arrives in this world, he therefore has a choice. If he does G-d’s will and prays as he should, the Holy One, blessed be He, will command His blessings to apply to him as he asks for them each day.
However if a person does not follow the right path, if he does not study and pray, and if he does not perform the mitzvot as he should, then even if he is overwhelmed with pain and suffering, he is solely to blame for not having received the blessings that were prepared for him. In fact he alone is the one who prevented such blessings from coming into effect.
In reflecting upon this, we see that this concept is found in Parsha Bechukotai, as the verse states: “If you walk in My statutes and you will keep My commandments…then I will give your rains in their time” (Leviticus 26:3-4). This means that if we walk in Hashem’s ways, if we put an effort into studying Torah and practicing mitzvot, then we will receive what we deserve – namely our “rains.” Rain will fall as a blessing to give us the strength that has been reserved for us. In other words, it is through our deeds that we bring blessings upon ourselves, for if we conduct ourselves properly, they will come upon us in the best possible way. In the opposite case, things will unfortunately happen in reverse, meaning not for the best. Hence this is the meaning of the expression, “I will command My blessing.” When we observe Hashem’s mitzvot, He too will command His blessings, which have been kept in reserve, to come upon us according to our needs. People therefore have no reason to complain to G-d, such as complaining that they lack a livelihood, or asking why someone was struck with misfortune. In fact the Holy One, blessed be He, does not prevent blessings from descending upon anyone. Instead it is the person himself who, by his actions, prevent blessings from coming to him. We must understand this clearly. Some people might ask, “There are some tzaddikim and bnei Torah who are poor, who suffer from hunger and want. How can we say that the Holy One, blessed be He, has commanded that they receive the blessings reserved for them?”
This question has a simple answer, namely that everything stems from the fact that these tzaddikim desire nothing from the material realm. All they desire is to have what they need in order to serve Hashem; all they want is not to be forced to neglect their Torah study. All their happiness consists of being able to remain studying Torah and performing its mitzvot in poverty, as the Sages have said: “Eat bread with salt, drink water in small measure, sleep on the ground, live a life of deprivation, and toil in the Torah” (Perkei Avoth 6:4). Their sole yearning consists of finding new Torah insights and understanding its secrets. As a result, they have no deep connection to the material realm; it does not interest them. Such people find Hashem’s blessings, which He prepared for them, in their Torah learning, which is the greatest of all blessings. In fact when the Holy One, blessed be He, sees that someone has no desire for materiality, and instead tends toward “his right hand, a fiery law” (Deuteronomy 33:2) – one who inclines to the Torah – He also commands that person’s blessings to come from the spiritual side. Hashem sends blessings for that person’s eyes to become even more open to Torah and a knowledge of His Name.
With regards to Moses it is said, “Moses descended from the mountain to the people” (Exodus 19:14). Rashi explains this according to the view of the Sages (Mechilta D’Rabbi Yishmael, D’Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai): “This teaches that Moshe did not turn his attention to his private affairs, but [that he went directly] ‘from the mountain to the people.’ ” In other words, Moses did not tend to his material concerns, nor did he have any need for material blessings. Instead he went directly to the people in order to teach them Torah, for all Moses wanted was spiritual blessings. This is why the Torah truly carries Moses’ name, as it is written: “Remember the Torah of Moses My servant” (Malachi 3:22). When a person truly becomes aware of his responsibility in this world and infuses this realization into his being, he will no longer have any material desires among his personal concerns. Instead he will desire to remain studying Torah and to become meritorious and make others meritorious, as our teacher Moses did, and it is there that he will find Hashem’s blessings. At the same time, however, a person should be a fitting vessel to contain these blessings. In order for Hashem’s blessings to be fulfilled in him, he must prepare himself to receive them. How should he do this? The Sages show us another way by which blessings come to man: By the poles of the Ark. Of them it is said, “The poles shall remain in the rings of the Ark. They may not be removed from it” (Exodus 25:15). What do these poles signify?
The Ark, in which the Torah was placed, was transported by means of these poles, and they allude to man himself. Everyone should become like these poles; they should carry the Torah and support it. This means that we must be the hands of the Torah; we must attach ourselves to it. We must also be careful that the poles never leave the rings, meaning that we should never separate ourselves from the Torah. If we do separate ourselves, then Heaven’s blessings and influence will no longer have an effect in our lives. To receive the blessings that have been reserved for us, we must always be attached to the Torah, without yielding to our natural tendencies to part from it and thereby prevent blessings and Heavenly abundance from descending upon us. In this way, we will always be vessels that contain blessings.