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The Soul’s Reward

Rabbi Altein, September 11, 2011

 This week’s Torah Reading instructs us not to withhold the pay of an employee. We are you pay the worker on the very day that he completes his work, before the sun has set. An employer has funds and refuses to pay his worker so that he can use the money for other purposes, commits a grave offense.
 We can certainly expect G-d to abide by the same rules and at least the same standards as those that he expects of us. This poses a problem. As compensation for the work that we do during our lives on earth, we are rewarded in two stages. Firstly, after death the soul is rewarded in paradise. Later, when Moshiach comes, all souls will be resurrected and enjoy the ultimate reward here on earth. But life in this world is no paradise; it is fraught with suffering and tzores at every step and at every turn.
 How is it, then, that G-d Himself does not seem to abide by the standard of rewarding pay to His labourers on the very day the work is completed? Why must we wait until we die and enter paradise or until we are resurrected in the future world in the era of Moshiach, before we can enjoy compensation for our labour? Why aren't we rewarded every day?
 The answer to this question is as follows: A man that was hired to work for several hours or days must be paid as soon as the day is over. That man has no responsibility after his day’s work is completed, so that is when he must be paid. But a contractor that assumes responsibility to do an entire job does not get paid until the job is completed, because only then will he have finished his work.
 Our souls descend to earth to accomplish a mission; actually a dual-job. The first job is for the soul to raise itself to greater spiritual heights. That job is not finished until the end of one’s life. Only then does the soul reap the benefit of its work, in paradise.
 The second job is for the Jew to effect a change in the world outside. Each of us must share in transforming the world into a kinder and holier place. But no individual alone can transform the entire world. In this second job, all of us are partners. That job is not finished until every Jew will have done his or her share. At that time, in the days of Moshiach, all souls will be resurrected to enjoy the ultimate reward here on earth.
 In the meantime, during life here on earth, we do not get the real pay. The job does, however, come with lots of perks; a good worker may enjoy better work conditions. So keeping the Mitzvot can bring us the blessings of health, prosperity and Nachas, even during our lifetimes on earth.
 Sometimes a soul does not complete its mission during its lifetime. The Cabbalists explain that in those situations the souls is recycled and reborn in another body, to have another chance at fulfilling its job. In fact, when we find it challenging to keep a particular Mitzvah, it may very well be that the difficulty is because our soul had previously neglected to fulfill that Mitzvah in an earlier lifetime. The soul descended once again to earth for the very purpose of meeting that challenge. We may have been born so that we can take care of unfinished business of a previous life cycle.
 The founder of Chassidism, Rabbi Israel Besh”t. taught: “A soul may live 70 or 80 years just because sometime during its lifetime it will do a favour to another person.”
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