Rabbi Israel Becker
“In Hot Pursuit”
In this week’s portion, Leviticus 25:35, the Torah teaches “If your brother becomes impoverished and his means falter in your proximity, you shall strengthen him…” According to the Medrash, “v’hechezakta bo” (strengthen him) is a prototype for kindness, for giving.
The Medrash teaches that the Torah’s words, “strengthen him” are actually a message to us not to be discouraged, that if we helped our fellow previously, help him again and again. Make sure that you have taken care of everything that he needs. Do not stop and do not become deflated and discouraged.
This Torah directive is actually alluded to in Psalm 23, the beautiful Psalm of King David where he says, “May goodness and kindness pursue me all the days of my life, and then I shall dwell in the house of G-d for length of days.”
The Chofetz Chayim asks, “Pursue me? Goodness and kindness pursue a person? An enemy pursues me. Someone who is coming to harm me pursues me. Goodness and kindness are wonderful things. How can we call goodness and kindness a pursuer?”
So the Chofetz Chayim explains that King David is telling us that sometimes in our mind we can become discouraged and overwhelmed and view the goodness and kindness that we do as the cause of our problems and our issues.
And King David is saying, “Let’s pray to G-d that goodness and kindness should be my issues.”
Hashem gives each of us challenges in life so that we can grow. May my challenges be, “How do I perform the Mitzvah of goodness and kindness, and not, G-d forbid, other challenges and other problems and issues.”
So keep at it! Don’t get discouraged. As King David promises, “May goodness and kindness pursue me all the days of my life.” May I be persistent in accepting the challenge of helping others, being involved in the community, helping the needs of the people who are outside of my circle and within my circle.
The more goodness and kindness that I choose to do, the more my pursuers become goodness and kindness, and not other challenges. Then “I shall dwell in the house of G-d for length of days.”