A couple got married and was hoping to have children. The first few years were troubling but they had hope things would work out. In their eighth year of marriage they decided to treat their childlessness with intensive treatments. After 2 years of intensive treatments their doctors told them there was no point in continuing and they would never have children. 10 years of hopes were dashed in a moment.
The wife though broken was not willing to accept her fate to remain childless. She made an appointment with Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach one of Jerusalem’s greatest Torah sages to seek his counsel and blessings. She brought her medical papers with her showed them to the great rabbi and poured her heart out before him. She was hoping to get some advice and a blessing to have children but was totally shocked by his words. Rabbi Auerbach laid the medical papers on the table and said: “G-d doesn’t owe you children!”
This woman paled and tears poured out of her eyes. She took the papers from the table and was about to leave when Rabbi Auerbach said: “My daughter, G-d doesn’t need to give you children! But, if you do more than you need to do from heaven they will do more than they have to…”
This woman cried as she walked down the steps and back home contemplating the rabbi’s words. The very next morning she decided to volunteer in the Hadassah hospital maternity ward. But she soon understood they didn’t really need her there they were doing fine without her so she volunteered in the children’s ward where she was really needed.
She made sure she came on time to gladden the hearts of children with life threatening illnesses. She would bring candies and gifts she bought with her own money and would sing to them and bring light to their lives. Many actually felt a lot better because of her and recovered because of the endless love and happiness she showered on them.
This woman did what she was told going above and beyond what she had to do and she was blessed with twins.
The words the rabbi told this woman were really powerful but they weren’t just for her. Those words are sound advice for anyone anywhere but they are even more befitting to this time in which we count the Omer winding up to Shavuot when we received the Torah. This is the time when we are so to speak, G-d’s bride about to enter the bridal canopy when G-d gives us the Torah. A bride always does her best effort to find favor in the groom’s eyes.
How can we beautify ourselves in G-d’s eyes? When we do not only what we have to do but we go beyond that and do things we don’t have to.
I may not be obligated to watch my neighbor’s children or to cook for an elderly neighbor or give someone a ride home or even volunteer in an organization to help cancer patients. I am not obligated to do these things, all these people will get by; but I will do them even though I don’t have to. The phrase “I don’t have to do this so I won’t” comes from the evil inclination trying to prevent us from doing things that aren’t always easy but can be done if I push myself and throw in some dedication to get it done.
In the Haphtarah, the prophet portion we read after the weekly Torah portion, the last verse we read this week is ‘And I will betroth you for me forever,’ this means that we will always be G-d’s bride and He will never despise us. ‘And I will betroth you with justice and law, kindness and compassion’, this means G-d says he will take us as His because of our charity, kindness and compassion.
If we do what we don’t have to, In heaven they will also do for us what they don’t have to.