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A weightless life

We remember the fish which we ate in Egypt for free (11:5)

"For free " - free of the mitzvos.

Sifri

Many ask: Why did G-d command us to observe the mitzvos? He is infinite and all-transcendent in His existence - nothing can detract from Him nor add to His perfection. Can He possibly care what we do?

Yet, our deeds are significant to Him. Not because of anything they inherently possess, but because He chose to imbue them with significance, for our sake. Life as a free lunch may be appealing at first, but soon turns tedious and threadbare. If life were not a struggle between right and wrong, if we did not have to sacrifice, toil, and accomplish in order to earn sustenance and happiness, it would be a joyless and meaningless exercise.

Rabbi Menachem M. Schneersohn, the Lubavitcher Rebbe

A wealthy nobleman was once touring his estate and came upon a peasant pitching hay. The nobleman was fascinated by the flowing motions of the peasant's arms and shoulders, by the graceful sweep of the pitchfork through the air. He so greatly enjoyed the spectacle that he struck a deal with the peasant: for ten rubles a day, the peasant agreed to come to the mansion and re-enact his hay-pitching technique in the nobleman's drawing room.

The next day, the peasant arrived at the mansion, hardly concealing his glee at his new line of 'work'. After swinging his empty pitchfork for over an hour, he collected his ten rubles - many times over his usual take for a week of backbreaking labor. But by the following day, his enthusiasm had somewhat abated. Several days later he announced to his master that he is quitting his new commission.

"But I don't understand," puzzled the nobleman. "Why choose to swing heavy loads outdoors, in the bitter winter cold and sweltering summer heat, when you can perform such an effortless task in the comfort of my home and earn many times your usual pay?"

"But master," said the peasant, "I don't see the work."

 

 


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