Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Parshat Bo: Little Leaps of Faith

A young girl brings home her chattan to meet her parents. At one point during dinner the mother tells her husband, “After dinner, go find out about this young man.”
The father and young man repair to the living room while mother and daughter are in the kitchen. “So,” the father asks, “what do you do? What are your plans?”
“I am a yeshiva bachur.”
“Admirable, but how will you provide for my daughter? How will you pay for a house for the two of you?”
“I will study and God will provide,” the young man says.
“And how will you buy her the kind of clothing she desires, and where will you get the money to buy a car?”
“I will study and God will provide.”
“And children? How will you support them?” the man asks.
"God will provide.”
Later that night, the mother asks “So nu? How did it go?”
“Well,” he tells her, “There’s good news and there’s bad news. The bad news is that he has no job and no plans.”
"What’s the good news?" the mother asks.
“The good news is that he thinks I'm God.”
When we tell that joke; when we laugh at that joke, we do so with a sense of smugness. After all, we’re not that yeshiva bachur. We’re the father-in-law, with the job and the house and the money. But when we look at that joke a little more carefully and honestly, we see that it’s not the yeshiva bochur who’s mistaken. Rather, it’s the father-in-law. You see, that young man might in fact take money while from his in-laws he’s learning in kollel to make ends meet. But he really does believe that ‘God will provide.” And he’s willing to make sacrifices, give up comforts in life, never eat in a restaurant, have a small house – to truly be poor in order to study and live a Torah lifestyle. And in the end God will provide. But what about the father-in-law? He doesn’t make those sacrifices. Sure, he works and earns, but he’s got a great car, a lovely home, eats out several times a month, vacations where and when he wants. But what does he believe? Where does he place his faith? He doesn’t believe that God provides, and it’s not that his future son-in-law thinks that he’s God. He believes that he is God.

Click here for the full text. (This is actually a drashah that I gave four years ago. Still relevant.)