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Choose to Shine 


Would you like to know the secret to winning the lottery? Imagine for a while how that might change your entire life. Would you upgrade your home, change your neighborhood, or buy a new car? Would your wardrobe improve? Imagine the parties you could throw. Now think about all the good you could do. There are many worthy organizations that help address poverty, education, health care, homelessness, and other good causes. We could spend the rest of this article merely naming the chessed organizations alone.

Perhaps winning the lottery may only be the first step toward lasting success. You’d be wise to hire a financial advisor to make sure your windfall would not disappear too quickly in a huge spending spree. Friends, relatives, and every charity collector and organization would find their way to your door, expecting a piece of the pie. In fact, 70 percent of lottery winners go broke within five years. Divorce, early death, and other life events are quite common among people who win the lottery. Sudden riches can cause life-changing chaos.

Let’s imagine you feel confident that you can handle it, and are willing to take that risk. I will reveal the secret with the standard disclaimers, of course. Here is the secret: you only need to refer to the teachings of our sages to find out how to win. The fact is, you’ve already won the lottery. You were born and given the gift of commandments by the Creator. The reward for even one mitzvah is greater than all of the pleasures of this world for all time, condensed into one mind-shattering moment. It would be like taking a winning lottery ticket and paying to ride the bus with it. The driver would look at you like you are crazy. He would say, I do not have change for this! Comparing the infinite reward for even one mitzvah to everything else in the world combined is ludicrous.

Further, the commandments are not just for earning a reward in the World to Come. They are the original Manufacturer’s instructions for how to live a happy and successful life.  Who is rich? He who is satisfied with his lot. One who lives to serve Hashem knows and believes that He opens his hand and satiates the needs of every living thing. Therefore, if you need it, Hashem will provide it, without question. If you don’t have it, then He feels you do not need it to complete your mission here on Earth. Once you understand this and internalize it, you become free.  It is liberating to know that you never have to worry about anything. Thank Hashem for every blessing in your life, feel true gratitude to Him, and you will find that you feel free of anxiety and worry.

That is exactly what the upcoming holiday of Pesach is all about.  We had to go through hundreds of years of pain and suffering while slaves in Egypt. Yet the purpose of centuries of hardship was to forge us into Hashem’s nation. He took us out of that land and crushed our oppressors with plagues and a show of divine strength not seen before or after that period in time. He provided food and shelter for us during our 40-year trek through the desert. He gifted us His most prized possession, His Torah, to enable us to do mitzvos and to learn and benefit from His wisdom. He made good on His promise to Avraham, our forefather, to give us the Land of Israel. He remains with us today in our everyday lives just as He was in ancient times. However, now the daily miracles are hidden. We have to pierce the veil of routine, the cloak of “nature”, to see His hand in every moment of our lives. Our mission is to draw close to Him, to feel His presence in our lives, and to serve Him in joy. That is the purpose of Pesach. Celebrate it with your families, with your friends, and with your guests.  Recount the wonders Hashem performed for us in great detail, and blend in your own personal account about how He continues to manifest His presence in your life.

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