By Rabbi Shmuel Gluck
Many of the difficulties in people’s lives are caused by their misconceptions of what should be considered needs, and what should be considered privileges. Privileges can make people feel good when they receive them, but should not make them feel badly when they are withheld. This Parsha discusses what should be considered needs, and for people to realize that everything else are privileges.
The Posuk says, (10/18) V’oheiv Ger, Loseis Lo Lechem V’simlo. You should love the convert, and give him food and clothing. Food, and clothing, seems to be an exceedingly minimal amount of support. Rashi explains: Dovor Choshuv Shekol Atzmo Shel Yakov Ovinu Al Ze Hispalel, “V’nosan Li Lechem Le’echol U’beged Lilbosh”. Yaakov davened for bread and clothing. What is being given to the convert is something significant, the same things for which Yaakov asked.
I think it’s fair to ask how one can consider that food and clothing, the most basic of needs, are enough, just because Yakov, a Tzadik, was satisfied with them. Would it be fair to say that the average person should be satisfied with 4 hours of sleep, because Tzadikim stay up most of the night studying Torah?
The Torah is teaching the message that the minimum is enough, even when receiving more would be helpful.
The Torah is teaching the message that the minimum is enough, even when receiving more would be helpful. The Torah doesn’t want to discuss privileges as if they’re the norm, since this would create a distorted value system.
If people would understand that their “baseline” is food, clothing, and shelter, wouldn’t they be happier knowing that they have achieved their minimum standard? Wouldn’t they be more appreciative when, through Hashem’s kindness, they receive a wide range of foods to eat?
I believe that it would be a worthwhile, personal, exercise, for people to decide what they consider their baseline. What they deserve, and what they don’t deserve, but will make them happier. Placing thought into this exercise will make them appreciate that most people’s baselines are distorted, and the cause of significant unhappiness. This could be the first step towards being happier and appreciative of Hashem.
Photo credit: Food photo created by jcomp – www.freepik.com