This week’s Torah portion, Parshat Re’eh, contains an interesting passage that sheds light on Jewish happiness (#simcha) and explains four types of people who it is extremely important to make happy.
HaShem, your G-d, will have blessed you. You shall rejoice before HaShem, your G-d – you, your son, your daughter, your servant, your maidservant, the Levite who is in your cities, the convert, the orphan and the widow who are among you – in the place where HaShem, your G-d, will choose to rest his Name there. – (Deuteronomy 16:11)
Rashi, a medieval French Rabbi and author of many important commentaries, made an interesting comment on the verse “and the Levite…the convert, the orphan and the widow” and the importance of these categories to G-d.
Rashi says G-d considers the above four categories by noting, “These are my four.” Meaning that these four groups of people are extremely vulnerable in society and need special caring, love and assistance.
Furthermore, Rashi notes that the above groups “correspond to your four.” Most people are closest to those who live in their house and would automatically care for and worry about their son, daughter, servant and maidservant.
What is the point of linking these two groups of four?
Rashi explains this Torah verse by attributing the following logic to G-d: “If you will make Mine (my four) happy, I will make yours (your four) happy.”
What a revolutionary concept and revelation into the expansive definition of Jewish happiness. Being happy by oneself is great and making family members happy is also excellent. But even in the midst of happiness, a Jew must never forget that there are people who are vulnerable and suffering. We must constantly strive to make these groups happy and to include them in our happiness whenever and wherever possible!
Why would this make “our four” happy? Maybe in addition to whatever divine blessings it would bring, seeing us think of the less fortunate would remind those close to us of the importance of mitzvot and acts of kindness, bringing them closer to The Source.
Unfortunately, I write this blog post not as an expert in taking care of “G-d’s four,” but as a beginner who very much wants to improve. Someone who does have this concept down is a friend of mine who is being honored for his charity work to help those suffering from cystic fibrosis. He is a successful doctor with a wife and cute young son, but rather than getting caught up in his personal success, he continues to include people who are less fortunate in his own happiness.
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And don’t forget to make “G-d’s four” happy! Shabbat Shalom!