What makes life whole? The answer is provided for in this week’s parsha.
“You shall serve G‑d your G‑d, and He will bless your bread and your waters, and I will remove illness from your midst. There will be no miscarriages and barren women in you land; the number of your days I shall make full.”
The simple meaning of the words “the number of your days I shall make full” is that one will live a long life. However, if that was the meaning of these words it should have said “I will lengthen your days” – a phrase we often find in other verses.
Commentators therefore explain that the term “full” is not only a reference to the quantity of days but to the quality of life that we will enjoy as well. These two verses describe three aspects of life that are the ingredients that make for a full life. They are: a) good health, b) healthy children and c) ample sustenance.
It is quite obvious that the loss of one of the above can be debilitating and can compromise the quality of life. But, it is equally obvious that there are countless people who suffer from the lack of health, children and sustenance and yet we would be hard pressed to say that their lives are unfulfilled.
On the contrary, we could make the argument that it was precisely the challenges and obstacles that they had to surmount that made their lives more complete. As has been noted in so many Torah sources, adversity has the capacity to reveal latent soul powers. Why then would the Torah connect a full and complete life with one that is without pain and suffering?
One could derive a very powerful lesson from this. All of the suffering that accompanied our long journey through exile has instilled within our collective psyche the belief and recognition that adversity can generate positive energies. And while we don’t G‑d forbid crave pain and suffering, we have learned the hard way that light out of darkness is more powerful than constant and consistent light. We have trained our eyes and ears to see the silver lining in an otherwise negative existence. It has become almost axiomatic that Judaism and Jewish existence are synonymous with pain.
In fact, we’ve developed such a sophisticated philosophy about pain and suffering that we’ve forgotten an even more powerful belief and recognition that G‑d’s scheme for our existence is the abolition of pain and suffering. The entire world’s creation, The Talmud teaches, is to lead to the Messianic Age, when there will be no more evil and “all tears shall be wiped away from all faces.”
To paraphrase King Solomon in his book of Kohelet “there is a time to look for the silver lining in the pain” and “there is a time for us to say to G‑d—as we do daily in our prayers—bring an end to the Galut and the pain it delivers on a daily basis. Let the heretofore hidden good be visible for all to see.
Bring us Moshiach now!” We will then see that a full life does not have to be punctuated with constant threats to our existence and incessant tragedy. On the contrary, a full life is one where we are permitted, nay encouraged, to have our proverbial cake and eat it too. Yes, a full life is one where we don’t have to feel guilty that we have it all.
And a full life is one that is blessed with the best in health, children and ample sustenance that parallels the most sublime form of spiritual health and wealth. Moshiach NOW!!!