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The Crown of Halacha

Achas Sh’alti 5777 – Just One Thing (Based on A True Story)

This entry is part 9 of 9 in the series Devarim 5777

Achas Sh’alti 5777 – Just One Thing (Based on A True Story)

Rav Yaakov inherited a little grocery store.  He continued the practice of his father to close four hours before shkia every erev Shabbos. However, week after week it was the same story; 20 minutes before candle lighting Rav Yaakov would come home, quickly shower and change into his Shabbos clothes. He always finished just in time to stand next to his wife at candle lighting. Because he was not home erev Shabbos his wife worked extra hard to cook and clean in order to be ready on time.

After 6 months of working so hard to clean their home and care for their children, his wife asked, “Yaakov, I don’t understand. You close the doors of the shop in plenty of time before Shabbos. What takes you so long to come home?”

Rav Yaakov answered, “It’s true I close the doors in plenty of time before Shabbos. However, as I am locking up, inevitably someone runs up and starts knocking.

Sometimes it’s a widow, a child, a baal Simcha, an elder, a poor person, or even the Mayor. And I am beginning to think that at some time there is not one person in this town who has not knocked on my grocery store doors after they were locked.

I always smile and tell them in a nice way that the store is closed, you’re too late. But, they hold up their index finger and I read their lips, ‘Just one thing’ they say. I have a heart, it’s erev Shabbos, and what’s so difficult in letting them purchase “Just One Thing”. After all, it’s an easy mitzvah of chesed to do.

So I let them in.

It never fails. They are all the same and I have no way of stopping it. Whoever I let in immediately pulls out a big shopping list, grabs a cart, and then starts filling it up. “What are you doing? You said that you only wanted one thing!”

Their answer is the same, “L’chatchila, if I came with a big shopping list, I knew you wouldn’t let me in. But now that I am here I know you won’t kick me out.”

How can I stop them? It’s an easy mitzvah to do.

Achas Shalti M’es Hashem.. (Tehillim 27:4)

One thing I asked of Hashem….

This Psalm has an inherent contradiction. Even though we ask one thing of Hashem, when we follow the Psalm to the end we are actually asking for much more. Besides dwelling in Hashem’s house, we ask for salvation, that our enemies should be vanquished, protection, joy, etc. We want it all, but if we would come with such a shopping list l’chatchila, Hashem would have to judge whether we are worthy to receive such benefits. So we ask for just one thing. It is easy to grant us just one thing, just to get into the House of Hashem. Once we made it inside then, just as the shopkeeper in our story let the customer keep shopping, so too Hashem once Hashem has opened the gates of rachmonis, He will allow us to ask for and receive all our needs.

It is important to keep this in mind during Ellul. Now that Hashem has moved closer to us and allows us to relate with greater intimacy, there is no limit to what we can ask for. We can ask for all that we have been “shopping” for during the rest of the year.



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