People look forward to many different things. Family vacations. A good burger. A night out. But there’s one thing that every single working man and woman looks forward to: their paychecks. You know, that little slip of paper or transaction in your bank account that helps you breathe a little easier when it shows up.
You work all week long, all month long. You know that all this hard work eventually pays off.
Except when it doesn’t.
Although this week’s Torah portion is chock-full of deep and important points, there is something vital to highlight from last week’s Torah portion, Parshat Ki Teitzei, where we are given the mitzvah to pay the wages of a worker on time and to not delay doing so (Deuteronomy 24:15). On the basis of the statement of our sages that God performs the same commandments which He commands us to perform — and that our service to God is likened to a worker working for their employer — we can conclude that the reward for following the mitzvos is our “payment” for our work.
But if this is the case, then why does God not give us such reward every time we do a mitzvah? Every time we finish a “job” we should be paid immediately. Yet we find that the ultimate reward for mitzvah observance will only happen in the era of Moshiach, speedily in our days. For thousands of years, Jews were doing mitzvos. Why are they all being made to wait for their reward?
The answer is that all these “little” jobs are actually details and parts of one big operation. The goal — as expressed in the Midrash and in the book of Tanya by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi — is to make this world into a home for God, where He can be comfortable, so to speak. Every mitzvah a Jew does brings the whole world one step closer to achieving this. But it’s a combined effort. It’s a cumulative effort. Every single Jew, from Mount Sinai until COVID times, takes part in this task together.
When this large-scale project is completed, God will not act tight-fisted when it comes to our well-deserved wages. Just as with the redemption from Egypt, our sages state that God did not prolong our stay there for even a moment, so too He will pay our salary without a moment’s delay, in the blink of an eye. PJC
Rabbi Dovie Kivman is executive director of Chabad of Erie County. This column is a service of the Vaad Harabanim of Greater Pittsburgh.