In the royal palaces of ancient kings, a section would be set aside to serve as a treasure-house. Here, the most priceless items, used on only the most special of occasions, would be saved.
This week we learn that the Ribbono shel Olam too has a treasure-house, so to speak. For we are told that if we observe the mitzvos, “Hashem shall open for you His storehouse of goodness, the heavens, to provide rain for your Land in its time…”
What is this storehouse? What lies within it?
Just a few days ago, those who study Daf Yomi learned a Chazal (Brachos 33b) “Hakadosh Baruch Hu has nothing in His treasure-house other than a storehouse of fear of Shamayim, as it says (Yeshayah 33:6) “The fear of Hashem, that is His treasure.”
Rabbeinu Bachyei teaches that only that which is gathered from others is stored away in a treasure-house. As the well-known Chazal states, “Everything is in the hands of Heaven except for the fear of Heaven.”
All that transpires for a person — such as whether he will be rich or poor, wise or foolish — is not a matter of choice or free will, but is preordained by Hashem. However, although Hashem knows in advance whether a man will be righteous or evil, he is given free will to decide whether he will choose to fear Hashem and follow in His ways or not.
Since fear of Hashem is the only thing that is not dictated directly by Hashem, it is what Hashem chose to keep in His treasure-house. While other mitzvos — such as tefillin or Shabbos — only apply at certain times, the mitzvah to fear Hashem applies at all times and under all circumstances.
It is the yiras Shamayim of individual Jews that is so precious to the Ribbono shel Olam that he keeps it in His treasure-house.
Chazal inform us that there are three “keys” that are not entrusted to a messenger, but are — so to speak — in the Hands of Hashem. They are the keys to childbirth, resuscitation of the dead and rain.
While the first two are understandable, what is so special about rain that it can’t be entrusted to a messenger?
The Klei Yakar explains that it is from this treasure-house of yiras Shamayaim that Hashem chooses “to provide rain for your Land in its time…”
Since the contents of this treasure-house are so beloved in the Eyes of Hashem, He chose not to give the keys to a messenger.
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In contemporary secular society, it is often assumed that if someone receives the right education and works hard enough, he or she is all but guaranteed to be financially successful. Being a millionaire or even a multi-millionaire seems a very achievable goal.
However, when it comes to spiritual ideals, people look around them and declare that while they may respect the aspirations of others, “I am just not cut out for it myself.”
In reality, the precise opposite is true.
Wealth or poverty is predestined at birth, though it can be influenced through tefillah and good deeds. While we are obligated to undertake an appropriate amount of hishtadlus for parnassah, neither hard work nor the right education are the source of wealth.
The only things really in our hands are the choices we make in spiritual matters. Unlike our financial security, our level of yiras Shamayim is up to us to decide, and this — more than anything else in the world — is what we really should be focusing on and working on.
On Motzoei Shabbos, Jews of Ashkenazic descent will begin to recite Selichos, joining their Sephardic brethren who have been doing so since Rosh Chodesh.
These are days of contemplation and introspection, of soul-searching and spiritual reckoning. It is a time to rethink and restate our priorities, and decide what really matters to us.
As we pour out our hearts in tefillah, let us not forget to daven for our own spirituality. As Harav Meir of Berdichev, zy”a, and others taught, a tefillah for yiras Shamayim is always answered. There are, of course, many levels of yiras Shamayim, and we are the ones who ultimately decide between being righteous or otherwise, but when we implore Hashem for siyatta diShmaya, for Divine assistance, we will surely merit it.
May we all merit to contribute our own portion of yiras Shamayim to the treasure-house of Hashem, and may we merit that Hashem open this treasure-house and give us the blessings of rains in its time, which includes both materialistic and spiritual prosperity.