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Natural or work for it?

Thursday, 7 April, 2016 - 10:07 am

Thank G-d, Fraida and I are blessed with four children; each one being cute and unique. Rochel Leah, our first grader, has started to read. It seems that she is a natural reader. This past Shabbos, seeing Fraida reading a children's book about a classmate’s great grandmother, she wanted to read it as well. Rochel Leah spent most of Shabbos on the couch reading all 170 pages. There are other children in her class that are not natural readers but have other talents that Rochel Leah does not have. The big question is: what is better, to be a natural or to have to work for it?

The question is asked: "what is the connection of last week's Torah portion ending with the laws of Kosher and this week’s Torah portion beginning with the laws of human purity?"

We find in the Talmud an explanation from Rav Simlai who says this is normal, for after all, the creation of man also followed the creation of the animals in Berashis!

There are two types of skills a person has: one that is natural and another that is acquired through toil. When one has a natural skill it, does not necessarily become part of them and can remain dormant and unexpressed. However, when one works toward a goal of obtaining a skill, it becomes ingrained into them and becomes one with them.

The Midrash tells us: “if a person merits it, they say to him: 'you preceded all the works of Creation', but if not, they say to him: 'the mosquito came before you!’

Rav Simlai did not have an illustrious background, everything he knew he worked hard to obtain. Therefore, when seeing the question of the Torah portions, Rav Simlai stresses that even the mosquito came before man. He teaches us to do what we need to do to make ourselves into a better person. Rav Simlai knew that hard work can make someone who is not a natural do a better job than the one who "got it from birth".

In truth, this is something we all need to do. We cannot be satisfied just with our natural abilities to have a good effect on other people or the world at large. We must work hard to make the world a better place, to reach out to someone in need, to reconnect with Hashem and to do another mitzvah.

Enjoy the work :)

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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