WHAT'S IN IT FOR ME?
"Hi Jake, how
are you doing?"
Just fine. What's up?"
"We're on our
way up to the school's library to help move and
cover the books. They're going to paint the room
and they need lots of help. Do you want to
paying you anything to help?"
never asked. I don't think so."
giving you free food?"
ask about that either. We just wanted to help
"Are they at
least putting the names of the volunteers on the
bulletin board so everyone can see who they
We didn't ask about that either."
have a good time."
mean that you are not coming?"
"Why should I
come? They are not giving you any money, food,
or recognition. What's in it for me?"
"What's in it
for you, Jake?"
right. What's in it for me?"
"Do you mind
if I answer your question with a little story?"
"Sure. I love
our forefather Yaakov, went to the home of his
uncle Lavan to find refuge from Eisav, his
brother, and to look for a wife. He met Rachel,
Lavan's daughter, and the two decided to marry.
He asked Lavan for his daughter's hand in
marriage. Lavan replied that he must work for
seven years in order to marry Rachel. The time
flies by, due to Yaakov's great love for Rachel.
As the wedding day approaches, Rachel senses
trouble. She knows that her father is a
trickster, and may try to give her sister Leah
to Yaakov as a bride. She makes up secret
signals with Yaakov, so that he can identify her
as the true bride.
night arrives, and sure enough, Lavan comes to
get Leah. Rachel is put on the spot. Should she
let Leah go without giving her the secret
signals? Then Lavan's devious plot will be
exposed. But what about poor Leah? She will be
bride. What a humiliation. Of course, she should
give her the signals. But what about Rachel? She
is finished. She will never marry her beloved
Yaakov. Who knows whom she will marry? Perhaps
his cruel brother Eisav. What should she do?
What do you say Jake?"
expose the plot. After all, she must worry about
herself. She has her future to think about. Why
should she give up a husband like Yaakov? What's
in it for her?"
"That is one
way of looking at it. I'll tell you what's in it
for her. She saves Leah from embarrassment. Our
sages tell us that it is better to be thrown
into a fiery furnace than to embarrass someone.
More importantly, she masters the art of
self-sacrifice and giving to other people."
interesting. Can you tell me about it?"
are two ways that we can relate to people. One
is, 'What can I get from them?' The second way
is, 'What can I give to them?'" The one who
always looks at people the first way will never
be truly happy or fulfilled. He is always
looking to get something.
will never be satisfied, because he can never
have everything. He will always want more than
he has. And, he will dislike people who do not
give him what he wants. People will not like him
because they know that he only wants to take
"It is. The
giver, on the other hand, is a truly happy
person. He is happy with what he has because he
is not always looking to get things. He only
wants to help people. By giving to people, he
grows to love them. And they grow close to him."
"Jake, it is
reality. 'What's in it for me' is a good
question. Helping others without pay or
recognition is the best thing that you can do
for yourself. You get much more than just a
little money or a free meal. You get true
happiness and good relationships with people.
in it for you."
library? I'm on my way to help. Now I really see
what's in it for me."
foregoing story written by Simcha Groffman was
published by Ohr Somayach
Frank & Merril Felber on the occasion of the
yahrtzeit of his mother Sarah bas Shmuel.
Congregation Kehillas Torah, San Diego, CA