Sept 16th 2022
I once learned a story about two brothers. The older was kind but walked with a limp. The other was gorgeous but mean. As they grew, their parents knew that they needed to move into the world and grow their own lives. “Who would have them,” the asked. They went to the rabbi who introduced them to a matchmaker who had a brilliant idea.
He knew of two young ladies who were perfect matches. One was deaf to marry the mean man – never able to hear the insulting comments. The other was blind, matched with the man with the disability – never able to see his face. All went well – the couples flourished … until a new doctor moved to the area.
She offered to cure the women’s maladies surgically. Voila! The blind woman could now see, and the deaf woman could hear. That is when the world began to unravel. The first sight of the man’s limp brought tears to his bride. He was kind but struggled to keep up. As the other heard the harsh words of his wife he sat in horror. She was beautiful but horrific.
They were both upset and refused to pay the doctor. She caused them such grief – she failed in fixing their problem! They all went to the rabbi to solve the problem, as the doctor demanded to be paid. The rabbi heard the case and ruled in favor of the two ladies. He instructed the doctor to immediately operate and reverse the “repairs.”
They immediately protested! The one did not want to be blind and the other did not want to give up hearing. With this the rabbi noted that the patients really were happy with the results of the doctor’s work, even if they were not thrilled with what happened as a result. They had to pay.
So, this week’s Torah portion reminds us to bring our first fruits to the altar – To God. When we do so, we are also obligated to demonstrate appreciation for all that is. Rather than default to appreciation, so many of us, though, experience the knee-jerk reaction of going back to the times that we somehow to remember of being simpler. As we know from so many teachers, the “good old days” were not always the good old days. As we also know, in terms of how we see and interact with the world, we cannot always control what happens to us, but only we can control what we do with it.
The first fruits and the appreciation remind us that we are blessed to have all that we have. We must be willing and able to demonstrate that appreciation and use these gifts to grow us and the world around us. It is not just showing up. The young brides now have options including remembering that their investment in relationships requires work. The men had to demonstrate their commitment to invest, as well. Relationships are not easy – but there is nothing more important. Bringing our first fruits with love reminds us that life has value only when we live that value. Shabbat Shalom.