“You know, you keep a lot of commandments,” I said.
He rolled her eyes.
“Please,” he said. “Like which?”
I thought for a moment.
“You believe in God. You avoid gossip. You avoid embarrassing others. You make effort to honor your parents.”
“Ok, that’s true,” he admitted.
“And you don’t drink blood or eat creepy crawly bugs.”
“Duh!” he said. “That doesn’t count.”
In more or less these words, I shared the following thought with him.
The Talmud asks, why does God command us not to eat things that people are anyway disgusted by, like blood or bugs? It answers, God desires to make people successful so He adds on easy commandments, “spiritual layups” so to speak. If we intend to avoid eating a bug because of God’s command, we are accomplishing something significant. How much more so, says the Talmud, when we face actual challenges?
My friend was surprised to hear this and thanked me.
This is the way of parents who say to their babies, “Who’s a good boy? Who’s a good girl? You are!” Parents intuitively look to impart to their kids that they’re good, they’re successful. Children generally accept this input. And as an outcome, they are inclined to seek more accomplishment.
Where do they get that from? From the ultimate Parent. God is imparting that message to us: I am making accomplishment easy and I want you to know that I am doing so. I want you to see yourself right now as tasting success and I want you to have even more.
The message is not, “You’re done, you’re perfect. You can ignore any mistakes you’ve made.” It’s, “You’re accomplishing great things right now. I have pleasure from you. Keep going.”
Apparently, God designed it that accomplished people want to accomplish more. As we look forward to the opportunity of Yom Kippur, we are obligated to remember: we are accomplishing, right now.