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"I can't get no satisfaction" is a.very bad grammarb. a song from some people's youth and c.an unstated mantra for many who live today.

 

A beautiful gemara flowing from the obligation to bentsch [found in this week's parsha and according to many the only Torah obligatory blessing] reminds us of a vastly different Jewish ethic of satisfaction. First, the pasuk

You will eat and be satisfied, and you will bless Hashem, your G-d, for the good land He has given you.

Note the Eretz Yisrael-food connection, necessitating its mention in the Birkas HaMazon [Grace after meals][1] - which may lead one to wonder what eating a Tuna fish sandwich has to do with the land of Israel. Note also that the Torah obligation of birkas hamazon requires satisfaction [1] - a mere k'zayis (olive size measure ~1.1 oz.) of bread [for most] just won't do.

A famous and most beautiful piece of Talmud confirms this point:[2]:

R. Avira taught: The ministering angels said before God: Master of the Universe, it is written in Your law, "(I am God) that does not favor nor accepts bribes", but in fact, do You not show favor to Israel, as it is written,"The Lord shall show his favor towards you?" He replied: And shall I not raise up My Face Israel, for in my Torah I wrote: And you shall eat , be satisfied and bless the Lord, your God, and they are particular [to bentsch] if the quantity is but an olive,[ is but an egg]

A two tiered obligation emerges: Rabbinically, one must bentsch after a k'zayis of bread whilst the Torah obligation commences with satisfaction. The Rabbinic level of the Talmud has serious benefits - for it invites special Divine grace.

Much about this Gemara baffles. Rav Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg (1878-1966) asks two basic questions:

1. If the obligation to bentsch requires satisfaction and one is not satisfied with a k'zayis, why is the Rabbinic obligation not equivalent to a blessings made in vain?

2. How has the gemara solved its initial problem of God's favoritism? At the end of the piece, God is still favoring His Jews ?

 

In previous year's we have shared two approaches, the Vilna Gaon and Rav Weinberg. Today we present a third, that of Rav Shimon Schwab. In his lofty words can be found a formula for living a satisfying life.

 

The whole notion of the final blessing is for satisfaction [it is for this reason that one does not make a final blessing after smelling a fine aroma[2]...] so here as well where is the satisfaction?

One must say that it is possible to be satisfied with just a little bit [cf. Rashi, Vayikra, 26:5]- "eat a little and there will be blessing within his body". This will be the future existence where they will be satisfied with a little bit of eating; it is for this reason that Rabbis established the bentsching on a small amount of food - for it relates to the satisfaction that will be in the future ... and since Yisrael are insistent to bentsch for even an olive - it is as if they are living in this world with the constant anticipation of the future world ; Therefore Hashem says "how can I not favor them" -- for when the Torah speaks of not favoring that is the conduct of this world - but in the future there will be special treatment for those that have merited the next world. For those that live in this world already in the manner of the next, it is only just that Hashem says about them he will treat them in thi

 

Rav Schwab is speaking from a high perch. With a geshmake [delicious] corned beef sandwich, it is hard to think about Olam HaBa. [Rye in the Sky?] - but his notion is precious and is worthy of our consideration - for the normal Jew, constantly lives in this world with an eye to something greater. One may even hypothesize that for much of the last millennia, there was nothing else to really live for.

 

In the deepest place then, satisfaction comes to the one who learns to live beyond the moment and the material. Consider: He who can transcend the sudden urge to yell and criticize, the momentary need to lie, and the expeditious instinct to cheat awaits something far more delicious; It is a world of the next world - a world within and world beyond[3] - the beautiful world of character development, of deep and abiding relationships, of learning deep Torah - a world of clinging to Hashem.

 

For those that live such a life and for those that try, our opening song is an ode to a bygone society - the best is yet to come and is here all at the same time.

 

Wishing all a Satisfying Shabbos

 

Good Shabbos,

Asher Brander

 


[1] Cf. Berachos 48b for the different themes necessary in bentsching [bris, malchus, Torah, eretz Yisroel, Yerushalayim, sustenance]

[2] Cf. Rashi Nidah 52a s.v. reichani

[3] This may be the significance of the Eretz Yisrael bentsching connection for the land of Israel is the nexus between this world and the next. Cf. Ramban, end of Acharei Mos for explication of this idea. Also the concept of Even Shesiya - shemisham hushtas kol HaOlam ....

 

 
   
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