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Labor of love

Thursday, 2 June, 2016 - 10:18 am

AdobeStock_110268222.jpegLabor of love n (la′bor of love′) work done for interest in the work itself rather than for payment.

Imagine if someone would tell a parent that he/she would be paid for his/her commitment to raising his/her child. Furthermore, for changing a diaper they would get .25¢, putting the child for a nap is worth .50¢, etc. While the parent may be thankful to have more "cash in the account", it diminishes the value of parenting, making it a job that is all about money.

What is the purpose for what we do? Is it all about the financial benefit or is there a superior gain? Mr. Joe Apfelbaum, a friend of mine, runs a podcast called CEOMojo. One of the questions he asks of the CEOs that he interviews is: "How important is purpose and meaning in business? Why is your business different? Other CEOs say just do it for the money!" All interviewees, while each having their own ‘greater purpose’, agreed that the motivator should be purpose over finances.

G-d tells us in the beginning of this week’s Torah portion (paraphrased with some commentaries): If you make your passion Torah learning and you fulfill Mizvot as an important part of the man/ G-d relationship, meaning if our relationship is truly an unbreakable bond and a labor of love, then I have a financial compensation package that will be enviable.  G-d assures that "I will give your rains in their time, the Land will yield its produce, and the tree of the field will give forth its fruit. Your threshing will last until the vintage, and the vintage will last until the sowing; you will eat your food to satiety, and you will live in security in your land”.

Does this not minimize the relationship to a financial agreement? Do spouses give each other an allowance? Do I pay my wife $25 a head for making dinner?

One answer is that this is not a give and take arrangement; it is not to be translated as ‘if you do A I’ll give you B’. The Torah is saying that true passion must encompass the entire human being down to their physical needs. G-d desires for a relationship that involves our entire existence, one that spills over into every aspect of our life. Parents, even when they are on vacation or at work, their child is on their mind. Entrepreneurs, who are successful, have their passion even when they are not in the office.

The way to read the verse is: Make your passion Torah learning and fulfill Mizvot as an important part of the man/G-d relationship, one that will include everything, from the rain to the produce to the tree of the field. Our relationship with G-d is one where Torah and Mitzvot affect everything. It is an unbreakable bond and a labor of love. 

Maybe this is the etymology of the word affection: true love affects everything.

How is your affection with G-d?

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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