You Should Buy A Lottery Ticket This Week
Rav Zevin in his Moadim B'Halacha, quotes from Rav Aharon of Karlin that in the final mincha of the year – next Erev Shabbos – we are still going to say the words ברך עלינו את השנה הזאת – Bless us this year with a year of sustenance and abundance.
By that point in the year, there will be barely fifteen minutes left. Yet, our text remains the same, and our obligation to pray with honestly and intent is unchanging. The meaning behind this then, is our deep rooted understanding that in one minute, we can still transform this year.
So why should you buy a lottery ticket?
Chazal tell us that each year between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, Hashem determines the amount of bracha that He will be sending our way. This is calculated by the Master of All Worlds, and takes into account our prior utilization of His brachos, as well as our stated intentions from last year.
But it is entirely possible that we have not yet received our full allotment of Hashem's generosity and kindness. Why not?
Chazal (קידושין פב ב) explain:
רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן אֶלְעָזָר אוֹמֵר, רָאִיתָ מִיָּמֶיךָ חַיָּה וָעוֹף שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָהֶם אֻמָּנוּת, וְהֵן מִתְפַּרְנְסִין שֶׁלֹּא בְצַעַר. וַהֲלֹא לֹא נִבְרְאוּ אֶלָּא לְשַׁמְּשֵׁנִי, וַאֲנִי נִבְרֵאתִי לְשַׁמֵּשׁ אֶת קוֹנִי, אֵינוֹ דִין שֶׁאֶתְפַּרְנֵס שֶׁלֹּא בְצַעַר. אֶלָּא שֶׁהֲרֵעוֹתִי מַעֲשַׂי וְקִפַּחְתִּי אֶת פַּרְנָסָתִי.
Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar says: Have you ever seen a beast or a bird that has a trade? And yet they earn their livelihood without anguish. But all these were created only to serve me, and I, a human being, was created to serve the One Who formed me. Is it not right that I should earn my livelihood without anguish? But I, humanity, have committed evil actions and have lost my livelihood.
Reb Itche Meir Greenwald once told this story of his father, Doctor Yaakov Greenwald:
“Before the wedding of a sister of mine, my parents needed twenty thousand dollars, and they didn’t have it. Then someone came to the house with a whole story. Many years earlier, he’d stolen money from my father and he’d always felt bad. He wanted to pay it back, and he gave my father 19,500 dollars.”
Reb Yankel Greenwald accepted the money and later mused to his wife, “I lost that five hundred dollars, which was meant for me; somehow I caused the flow from Shamayim to be blocked for that amount.”
Hashem has indeed sent the fullness of his Brachos to us. But we have erected walls of aveiros; we have closed ourselves off to His presence in our lives. The net result being that not all of that which we are due to receive actually makes its way to our wallets and bank accounts.
It stands to reason then, that if we use this final week of the year to remove the partition between us and Hashem, then any remaining brachos should arrive before Rosh Hashana. With earnest and heartfelt Teshuva, we can still earn our full share – provided we have done a modicum of Hishtadlus – even a tiny effort to make it possible. So, this week, do Teshuva, and buy a lottery ticket.
Of course, it is not just Parnasah that we have “left on the table”. Perhaps last year, Hashem decreed Refuah, or a child, or a shidduch. Perhaps He has already granted us wisdom, creativity and some brilliant new ideas. Or perhaps He already blessed us with Shalom Bayis, and nachas from our children. Perhaps He gave us the skill and will to master Shas and Poskim. Perhaps all of this is waiting just beyond our reach due to the walls of frustration, negativity and failure we have put up around us.
There is only one week left. One week to claim the gifts of 5783. By Rosh Hashana 5784 those brachos will ascend to Shamayim, and we will once again plead with Hashem to give us a year of live and love and success. But how foolish of us to wait until then?! Who knows what more there is left on the Gift-Card labeled 5783? Why not try to use it up? Hashem will certainly give us more next year – after all, He is infinite.
Of course, there is one final ingredient to make it work. We need to ask.
The Belzer Rebbe would tell his Chassidim: Stop Davening For Parnosah. You’re a Jew, Daven to be Rich! Parnosah – sustenance – is for poor people. A Yid is a child of the King. Ask for Ashirus, ask to be wealthy!
For many of us, we don't ask for what we want and need. We feel strange asking Hashem for things which we don't feel we deserve. But this is only because we have a weird idea of what it means to Daven. We think of it as a ritual, or an obligation. At its core, Tefillah is a conversation between parent and child. And children are not shy to ask their parents for ridiculous things. Sometimes, it even works out!
Two summers ago, our son Dovi came home from camp and declared “Abba, I want a hoverboard!” “Cool”, I replied. “Me too.”
He was frustrated with my response. “No, Abba, I want you to buy me a hoverboard.” “Yes, I know. And the truth is, I'd like you to buy me a hoverboard.”
He realized the conversation was getting nowhere. “Ok Abba. What can I do to earn a hoverboard?” “Aha! That's a much better question...” Six months later, through mitzvos, middos and helping around the house, he had earned his hoverboard.
Hashem wants to give everything to us; and He wants us to earn it. But we'll never get anything if we don't ask.
The Torah tells us of a conversation between Moshe Rabbeinu and Hashem at the burning bush. Hashem is attempting to persuade him to take the job of leading the nation out of Mitzraim. Moshe, for his part, has many reasons why he should not go, finally culminating in his complaint that:
בִּי אֲדֹנָי לֹא אִישׁ דְּבָרִים אָנֹכִי ...כִּי כְבַד־פֶּה וּכְבַד לָשׁוֹן אָנֹכִי
“Please, I have never been a man of words, either in times past or now that You have spoken to Your servant; I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”
Moshe is telling Hashem, I can't do it, I have a speech impediment – How could I possibly be the person to speak to Paroah and the nation?
Hashem then tells Moshe, that He will send Aharon to be the spokes person instead. But the Ramban (Shemos 4:10) asks a simple question: Hashem is Hashem. Why didn't he simply heal Moshe's speech impediment?!
He answers devastatingly: Moshe never davened for it.
As we approach the end of the year, the Yismach Yisrael reminds us that picking up one end of the stick raises up the whole stick. Lifting up this Shabbos and this final week, with our Torah, Tefillah, Teshuva and Tzedaka will raise up the entirety of 5783.
So do Teshuva, fix what you need to fix, ask Hashem for what you want and need, and buy a lottery ticket. There might just be a little bit left waiting in our accounts in Shayaim.