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Chanukah is only two weeks away! Are you ready? Begin a lovely new week with this beam of emuna and inspiration:
Yet, he turns around in Ecclesiastes 5:11, and says that the sleep of an honest laborer is sweet.
So if you want to taste sweetness in your life, what do you do? Do you steal or do you perform honest labor?
First of all, let me assure you that King Solomon, the wisest of all men who ever walked the earth, didn't at all contradict himself. We simply must take a closer look at each of his sayings to see that they complement one another rather than contradicting each other. How?
The Gemara in Bava Kama 119a tells us that stealing a mere penny from someone is tantamount to murder. Therefore, the sweetness of stolen goods that King Solomon was talking about is really chocolate-covered poison, because anyone who steals is going to get the book thrown at him, not only in the next world but eventually in this world too.
Guess what else our sages categorize as stealing: they say that partaking of anything in this world without making a blessing is just like stealing from the Almighty. Many people don't like hearing this – they protest and say, "Hey what are you talking about? I didn't steal that food – I paid for it at the supermarket." OK, maybe you're not stealing from the supermarket, but it's still stealing from the Almighty. The supermarket didn't send the rain clouds that watered the wheat field that enabled the wheat to grow that eventually became the flour or the loaf of bread that you bought at the supermarket. Maybe you paid the bakery but you didn't pay the Almighty.
The same goes for medicine and medical care. Sure, you paid the doctor, the pharmacist or the medical insurance, but they don't make your heart, lungs and eyes function properly – the Almighty does that and He deserves our thanks.
With this in mind, we can understand what King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, that the sleep of an honest laborer is sweet.
You see, the blessings we make come under the category of prayer. Our sages say that prayer is "labor of the heart." So, when you pray for whatever you receive in life, the object of your prayer is the sweetest thing on earth. We therefore arrive at an amazing conclusion which should be an absolute obligation in our daily lives: whatever we pray for becomes the sweetest fruit on earth, yet if we receive something we didn't pray for, it simply won't have a blessing and its apparent sweetness will soon turn bitter. Take for example the guy that wins the Irish lottery: before he had the $20 million, he had a good night's sleep. But once he won the lottery, his doorbell doesn't stop ringing with long lost relatives and friends – our lottery winner has no more peace and quiet. Why? He didn't pray for what he got.
Don't take anything in life for granted. Pray for all your needs and in the meanwhile, thank Hashem for everything you have.
Before anything you do, pray. Say a short prayer before you get in the car so that you'll arrive safely at your destination. Pray for a minute or two before you make your sales pitch to the prospective buyer. Pray when you put the Shabbat dinner in the oven, that it should come out tasting wonderful. When it does, and when you make that fat commission, you'll know that it was Hashem helping you – that is ever so sweet, like a ripe watermelon on a hot August day.
The wonderful thing about the sweetness of prayer is that it neither spikes your blood sugar nor is it fattening. Prayer is the sweetest fruit on earth. You know why? When you pray for something, you won't become smug or arrogant when you get it. Oftentimes, if Hashem knows that we'll become arrogant if He gives us what we want, He simply won't give it. But, the more you pray and the more you depend on God for what you need, the more readily you'll see your prayers answered, and that is ever so sweet. Try, cherished brothers and sisters, you'll love it. G-d bless always!
If you prefer listening to reading, hear the broadcast of "The Sweetest Fruit":
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As you can see today, "Strength and Serenity" has received a face lifting, not only in appearance but in content as well. Throughout my recent travels in the UK and the USA, people asked me to put more of an emphasis on emuna. An old Yiddish expression says that when ten people tell you that you're drunk, go to sleep. In other words, when so many people gave me the same message, it behooves me to respond accordingly. So here we go. We call this series "Emuna Beams" and with a little help from our friends, we hope to post a daily message of emuna and spiritual strengthening, both here and on other social media outlets. We'll keep you posted, G-d willing. Enjoy today's, our first, recorded last night in Meron where all of you were in my prayers: