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  • Rabbi Weiss

Wine, Torah and Pleasure

Yesterday we made the point that Hashem does not want to burden us with the Day of Judgment so He only alludes to it in the Torah. He loves us so much and He knows the strain that it imposes on the minds of good Jews. The רבנו יונה tells us תשובה repentance is one of the most fundamental expressions of Hashem's kindness to mankind. Actually חז"ל tell us it is part of the fabric of the universe and still so many of us begrudge it. Why the need to get up so early to say סליחות to fast especially since it depletes our energy and the payoff seems to be much less than the effort. If we dig deep in our hearts we know Hashem does not need the whole shebang. Just reflect for one second. The universe is massive. We cannot comprehend its vastness. We live on a planet that is smaller in relation to the universe proportionately to a grain of sand in relation to the earth. Then think about the size of each and every one of us in relation to our planet. If we believe all this is contained in Hashem can we see ourselves even as microorganisms, dust specks praising Hashem. We get it! So why bother with the charade!

Ask yourself another question. Most of us especially in modern times seek ultimate pleasure and enjoyment in life. In truth the today the sky is the limit. Let's talk about ourselves. We all for the most part are at least social drinkers. Every opportunity we have we imbibe, Shabbos, Yom Tov, ritual events and even an evening out. The גמרא says לא נברא יין אלא לנחם אבלים. The purpose of wine is to console mourners. The custom in olden days was to drink wine in the house of a mourner to cheer him up. However, we are so happy experiencing the ultimate pleasures of life that it seems we should get high on life itself without the extra kick we get from alcohol.

שלמה המלך was the wisest of all. In קהלת he writes an amazing verse. גם את העולם נתן בלבם אשר לא ימצא האדם את המעשה אשר עשה אלוקים. God put the world in the hearts of man (to such an extent) that they neglect to know what God did. We can understand this as Hashem made such an incredible world that preoccupies our minds that we actually overlook what He really did. All the happiness and pleasure is drowning out something very important. Something is missing. It gnaws at us but we do not know what it is so we worship money, travel, look for a fulfilling relationship or become shopaholics.

Now we can understand why there is no reason to begrudge. This is not an exercise in futility. It is to fill in that blank at least on some level to realize what we are missing and to connect as much as we can in or lives especially at this time of year. This is the true source of happiness, living with a purpose. All the pleasures of this world cannot quell the yearnings of the infinite, lofty Jewish soul to unite with God just because it is embedded in a human body. It desires its pleasure as well.

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