Tonight R’ Bamberger spoke about the mitzvah of building the Beis Hamikdash. The purpose of the Beis Hamikdash is to serve as a source of inspiration for us to observe the mitzvos better. This leads us to the question of why we should do mitzvos in the first place. Does G-d really need our mitzvos?
To this question, the Sefer Hachinuch answers that G-d gave us the mitzvos for our own good. When we perform mitzvos, we earn a share in the World to Come. The spiritual pleasure that can be had in the world to come is the ultimate pleasure in the world. It wouldn’t be the same thing if G-d would give us a share in the World to Come without our deserving it. Human nature is such that we only appreciate something if we worked hard to get it.
R’ Bamberger related a relevant story about himself. Apparently, the child labor laws weren’t in effect yet when he was a child. When he was 10 years old, he worked as a waiter in a summer camp for two months for just $86. He had to do really heavy work, like mopping floors. However, he never appreciated money more than those $86 that he earned through many hours of hard labor.
The Rosh Yeshivah of Darchei Torah, R’ Shlomo Avigdor Altusky, Shlita, spoke on a similar topic this past summer on the Fast of the 17th of Tammuz. He related an interesting incident that occurred with the Chofetz Chaim. A man once told the Chofetz Chaim that he didn’t want Moshiach to come. He explained that he felt that way since we are only able to accumulate merits for the next world through the nisyonos that we face in this world. The Chofetz Chaim didn’t reply to this explanation, but indicated that he didn’t approve of it.
R’ Altusky tried to explain why the Chofetz Chaim disapproved of the man’s explanation. He gave the following parable: A boy lost his father at a very young age. Due to his unfortunate situation, he was forced to become very mature and assertive at a very young age. Twenty years later a colleague noted to the orphan how much his character improved through the death of his father. To this insensitive remark, the orphan replied that he would gladly give up all of the ma’alos (positive traits) that he acquired if he could have his father back.
This was the Chofetz Chaim’s reason for disapproving of his visitor’s opinion. While it is true that we are earning merits through our nisyonos and yissurin in this world, the reward isn’t worth it. This is the reason why we want Moshiach to come quickly and not to live in this world indefinitely.
In fact, it is the very suffering that we experience in this world that will bring the Moshiach. The medrash tells us that Moshiach ben Dovid was born on Tishah B’Av. This idea should bring us consolation for all of the difficulties that we experience in our lives. The true goodness that G-d has in store for us can only be had when Moshiach comes.