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Section: Galus & Geula   Category: Moshiach
Who Is Trapped Behind Prison Walls?
Rav Chatzkel Levenstein explains that unless we do the mitzvos perfectly our reward is far from what we expect.  Since none of us do Mitzvos B'Shleimus, our only hope is the greatest reward of all, that of Matnas Chinam, gratis.  When Moshe went up to Shamayim, Hashem showed him all his storehouses of reward and told him what each one was for.  Then Moshe saw a storehouse that was incomparably larger than then all others and Hashem told him that it was Matnas Chinam.  Who is it given to?  "V'Chanosi Eis Asher Achon", I will grant it to those who I favor even if they don't deserve it.

How does one tap into this reward, asks Rav Chatzkel?  It is not by doing the Mitzvos, it is by finding favor in Hashem's eyes.  It is by doing the mitzva with thought and with love.  One person can do a Mitzva with many hidurim and chumros and still not find favor in Hashem's eyes, while another can do it in a way that he is not even Yotzei and get no s'char for the mitzva, yet receive far greater reward from Matnas Chinam.

I am in contact with a Jew in prison who was raised totally secular and knew nothing about Judaism until he ended up in jail and was introduced to Judaism by a Lubavitcher Chosid who came to visit.  Eventually he started putting on Tefilin daily.  He recently told me that he is saving up money to buy his own tefilin since there is only one pair for all the inmates, and by the time it is his turn breakfast is already over so he hasn't eaten breakfast in quite a while, which isn't good for him.

This really shook me.  Imagine this fellow who can barely daven, wearing a pair of tefilin that may or not be kosher, and is probably not wearing it correctly, is getting far more s'char than me who has a very expensive pair of Mihadrin Min HaMiharin Tefilin with all the chumros.  I daven with a minyan and say everything from the beginning to end, while I can only imagine what he calls davening.  Yet he is Moser Nefesh every day, while I go to Shul as part of my daily routine.  He will get tremendous s'char from the great storehouse of Matnas Chinam, while I will face a lot of questions about why I forgot to wake-up and stop dreaming before I went to Shul each morning.

This is a man who I don't know how long he has been behind bars or what he has done, but I do know that he is not expected to be released before the year 2023.   Yet he is a free man.  His mind and Neshama soar to places that we can only imagine.  I am trapped by my routine.  I am trapped chasing a living and chasing all the other things I desire in this world.   

The Medrash says that the first time Bnei Yisroel sat down after being exiled from Eretz Yisroel was Al Naharos Bavel.  Until then the Bavli'im wouldn't let them rest for a moment.  They were scared that if Bnei Yisroel had time to rest they would think.  This would lead to tshuva and a quick return to Eretz Yisroel.  Once they arrived in Bavel it was too late.

We go through life running without any time to think.  We do mitzvos without thinking.  We are losing out on all fronts.  The s'char we can expect for our mitzvos is minimal, and we are surely not candidates for the great rewards of Matnas Chinam.

We may be trapped in the Galus but just like my friend in jail no walls can contain the human spirit.  The Neshama can soar over any man made obstacle if only we recognize it and pay attention to it, and give it the time it so dearly wants and needs.  Just like the Jews on the run to Bavel, if we stop and think for just a moment we can very quickly breach the barriers tying us down.  We are in a self imposed Galus.  We are here because our minds choose to be here and therefore our bodies remain here as well.  It has been 2000 years since we've had a collective moment of contemplation.  How much longer will we need to wait until we free ourselves from jail?

RELATED ARTICLES:galus  Matnas Chinam  Rav Chatzkel Levenstein

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