Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sweetness of Hardship

Once the Jewish people arrived in Jerusalem with their fruit in hand (they dried the fruit to prevent it from rotting) they placed their fruit on the alter and the offerer recited the chapter of bikurim (Devarim 26:5-10). By giving over the bikurim, Bnai Israel was reminded of the kindness of Hashem (who provided fruitful trees). The essence of this chapter discusses Hashem’s kindness to the Jewish people. By reading this portion of the Torah, the offerer recognizes all the kindness that Hashem had bestowed upon him.

Additionally, the text of bikurim recalls many of the hardships the Jewish people faced, allowing them to truly appreciate their good fortune. In life, we seem to only appreciate our good fortune when we are mindful of the misfortunes of the past.

The parsha discusses how Yakov survived in Lavan’s house, despite Lavan trying to destroy him. Also, it speaks of the affliction the Jewish people faced in Egypt. Then it speaks of how the Jewish people were saved, after all their affliction.

Moreover, this idea is essential to our own lives. Although we may face hardship and struggle with many different things, the affliction we face is there to build our character. Rather than disconnecting with Hashem about the undesirable circumstances in our lives, we should look at how we can use that circumstance as an opportunity to grow and develop ourselves. Through persistent effort, the day will come when we will have good fortune, and when we finally get a taste of the sweetness, we will appreciate it that much more so.

As Rosh Hashanah approaches, we should remind ourselves of the sweet honey we dip our apples into. The sweetness of the honey symbolizes the sweetness of the good fortune we will all be blessed to experience, G-d willing. However, this sweet fortune does not come without a price, we must toil and delve in the hardship, where we truly develop our middot-character traits, only then can we enjoy the sweetness of the honey. May we all be blessed with the persistence and motivation to stay inspired despite any hardships we may face.

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