Handling Blessings (Nitzavim)
You must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing. -Andrew Jackson
Moses continues describing the blessings that God will bestow on the people of Israel. He declares:
And the Lord your God will grant you abounding prosperity in all your undertakings, in the issue of your womb, the offspring of your cattle, and the produce of your soil. For the Lord will again delight in your well-being, as He did in that of your fathers. – Deuteronomy 30:9
The Berdichever ties his explanation of how blessings work to the upcoming holiday of Rosh Hashana. On Rosh Hashana God judges the world, the Jewish nation, and each of us individuals. He decides and decrees our fate for the coming year. Who will live and who will die; who will be healthy and who will be sick; who will be rich and who will be poor; and everything that will occur to us in the coming year.
We, of course, pray for blessings. We pray for life, for health, for income, for joy, for safety, and for success in all our efforts. And God wants to shower us with blessings. He really does. The Berdichever quotes the popular Talmudic dictum: “More than the calf wants to drink, the cow wants to nurse.” God wants to give us blessings even more than we want to receive them.
However, the Berdichever explains, we don’t always receive the blessings we request. We need to be capable and ready to actually accept and handle the blessing. We aren’t always ready for the blessings.
When we pray and make a request of God and God deems us prepared to receive the requested blessing, it gives God tremendous joy. He bestows the blessings happily.
However, if we’re not ready, it saddens God. It saddens Him that He is in some fashion prevented from acquiescing to our requests – for our own good. Just as a plant that receives too much water can be drowned, so too, if we haven’t made ourselves into an appropriate receptacle to receive the blessings we seek, God’s showering our requests upon us could damage us (just look at the tragic history of many lottery winners).
God’s prevention of sending blessings our way is in fact an indictment of Him. When the Heavenly Court is reviewing each individual’s case, and hears everyone’s pleas and requests, God’s inability to grant our requests because of our unsuitability is embarrassing to Him. He wishes He could, but knows that were He to follow through with our hearts desire, it would be damaging and destructive to us. He can’t bestow the particular blessings until we’re ready.
May we be indeed become worthy and ready to receive all the blessings we hope for.
Shabbat Shalom and Ktiva Ve’chatimah Tovah,
To the OU’s fantastic Torah New York event.