Using a Gift Properly makes the Giver Happy
By Nachum Mohl
There was a man who went to visit his son's teacher. He asked him how his son was doing and was surprised to hear from his son's teacher that his son was doing poorly.
“He hardly turns in the homework assignments, and when he does, it is often late,” was the teacher's dour report.
The man was in anguish. He approached his son and asked him to explain why he did not do the homework assignments and why he was generally late with the few that he did complete.
The son replied, “I have poor handwriting, so I first write down the assignment in my normal handwriting and then I must check the spelling in a dictionary, edit it, and then I re-copy it neatly so that the teacher can read it. This takes me so much time. If I had a computer, then I could type it out; the computer programs even have spell checks, it would be so much simpler to do and easy to read, and I could complete my homework assignments much quicker this way.”
The father thought that this was a good answer and quickly went out to buy a new computer for his son. Thinking that now his son would be doing better, the father did not bother to inquire at the school for several months.
After this time, the father came back to the teacher to hear from her what his son's progress was. The teacher told him, “He is doing worse now than before. Earlier in the year he turned in some of the home work assignments, but since your last visit, it is rare to get anything from him at all.”
The father was totally unprepared for such a negative report but this time instead of speaking to his son, he decided to do some detective work on his own. It did not take much to discover that instead of using the computer for doing homework, the son was wasting most of his time playing games and chatting over the Internet.
Armed with such knowledge of the son's deceptive behavior, he accosted his son with the evidence of his misuse of the computer.
“I gave you the computer to use to advance yourself in school, but you are using it in a way that has made your progress worse!” The father was very angry with his son, and for a very good reason. He threaten the son that he would take away the computer unless the son buckled down, stopped playing with it and instead do his home work on it as had been the original intent.
When G-d gave us the Torah, he gave it to us to use to become a holy people and thereby get closer to Him. The various positive mitzvahs and negative commandments are there that we should learn to be a nation of G-d fearing people. When we use the Torah for this purpose, then G-d is happy with us and happy that He gave us the Torah.
However when we begin to come up with new explanations that never existed, explanations made up only to show other people how smart we are, G-d becomes irritated; that was not the purpose of our having the Torah. When we look in the Torah and see that G-d forbade pork, yet we find some reason to permit it, G-d becomes angry with us for misusing the Torah.
When we see that the Torah finds homosexuals a perversity, a sin so hideous that a homosexual (in the times of the Jewish Court, the Sanhedrin) could be put to death; yet there are those who come along and tell us that today homosexuality is not forbidden, we must realize that these people are also perverting the teaching of the Torah. This is a misuse of the Torah!
Like the son in the parable above, we must learn to use the Torah properly. There is much we can learn from it, but we must be careful not to deviate and pervert its teachings. To pervert the teachings of the Torah is a grievous sin and makes G-d very unhappy; conversely, when we use the Torah properly, to become a holy people, to draw closer to G-d, then G-d becomes happy with us.
Let us use the basic inherent wisdom that our Maker gave us by following the laws of the Torah properly and shunning those who pervert its teachings.
from the October/November 2012 Edition of the Jewish Magazine
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