Rabbi David Ashear
“When a mitzvah becomes difficult, it is a present from Hashem.”
Earn A Title
If a person sets out to do a mitzvah and is confronted with obstacles, his natural reaction might be, Doesn’t Hashem want me to do this mitzvah? Why is He making it so hard for me? For example, a person is out of town and wants to pray with a minyan. He finds out there is a shul about 15 minutes from his hotel that starts prayers at 7am. The next day he wakes up early and arrives to the shul on time. Then someone tells him, “We don’t use this shul during the week anymore. There is another shul about 20 minutes in the other direction, which starts at 7:45am.” The man could think, I already went out of my way to do something good. Why didn’t Hashem let me find out about the other minyan initially? Why did it have to be so much trouble to do this mitzvah?
This is the natural reaction. What is our reaction supposed to be?
The Mesillat Yesharim (Chapter 19) states that those who really know are happy when they find out that a mitzvah they want to do became more difficult. Now they are able to show how much they value the mitzvah and how much they really love Hashem.
The sefer BaYam Derech adds that when someone does a mitzvah that requires self-sacrifice, his status regarding that mitzvah, becomes elevated. From then on, every time he does that mitzvah, even if it is easy, his rewards are much greater, because he has already shown how much he values it.
For example, if a person is in medical school studying to become a doctor, he might reach a point where he already knows exactly how to treat patients and he is ready to practice. However, as long as he is still a student, he cannot charge for his services. The moment he is granted the title “Doctor” he can start charging for the exact same service. It is the title itself that elevates him. When a person sacrifices for a mitzvah, his title in that mitzvah changes, and he is now rewarded much more for anything he does in that area.
Yosef HaTzaddik earned the title Tzaddik by overcoming one awkward and difficult dilemma, and that title remains with him forever. It is a major zechut to be given an opportunity to do a mitzvah with self-sacrifice and to earn a title.
In Parashat Vayeira, when Avraham was in pain from his brit milah, Hashem made it the hottest day in history to ensure that Avraham could rest instead of having to tend to guests. Then Hashem saw how much Avraham was yearning to have guests, despite his pain, so He sent angels that appeared to be human beings to him. One of those angels was sent to eventually heal him.
The question could be asked: If Hashem felt bad for Avraham and wanted to give him the opportunity to take care of guests, why did He not just heal Avraham first, and make it easier for him? Why didn’t Hashem just make it cooler outside and send regular people? The answer is, since Avraham had such a yearning to do the mitzvah, Hashem gave him the greatest gift of all – an opportunity to receive a new title in hachnassat orchim – inviting guests, to do the mitzvah with self-sacrifice that would in turn earn Avraham unfathomable rewards in that area. Indeed, Avraham became our example of how to do hachanassat orchim.
When a mitzvah becomes difficult, it is a present from Hashem. If we understand how to view Hashem with the proper perspective, our attitudes will change, and we will embrace all of the opportunities that He gives us.