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HAPPY BIRTHDAY

by Stuart W.    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

It's Davey's birthday. His 16th birthday, to be exact, and he's no longer Davey. He is now Dave, independent young adult ready to take on the world. And today he will be cruising into adulthood in a brand-new 1997 Jeep Cherokee.

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It's Davey's birthday. His 16th birthday, to be exact, and he's no longer Davey. He is now Dave, independent young adult ready to take on the world. And today he will be cruising into adulthood in a brand-new 1997 Jeep Cherokee. He picked out the color and the style, and made sure it would have all the accessories. His job as a courtesy clerk at the Piggly Wiggly wouldn't quite cover the cost of the car, so his parents offered to pay for basically all of the expenses. Now Dave waits expectantly for the keys to the wheels of his dreams.

Dave's parents enter his room. "Son," they hesitate, "happy birthday. Here's a brand-new computer. We're investing the rest of the money that we would have spent on a car so that you'll have it later in life. We love you." Dave has several choices as to how he should respond. What should he do?

a) Burst out crying and throw the computer out the window.

b) Jilt his parents to move in with Uncle Ned in Malibu and start living life in the fast lane.

c) Thank his parents for giving him such a nice birthday present and for wisely investing in his future.

In this week's portion, the Torah tells us of the obligation in the land of Israel to bring one's first fruits to Jerusalem and recite a passage in which one thanks Hashem for everything He has done for the Jewish people, from taking us out of Egypt to bringing us to the land of Israel. The Be'er Mayim Chaim, a 16th century commentator on the Torah, explains the rationale behind this mitzvah by way of a parable of a parent giving a present to his child. If the child is wise, he understands that his parent has no obligation to give him this present, and therefore whatever the parent decides to give him comes as a result of his love for his child. This realization strengthens the child's love for his parent, and he sincerely thanks his parent for the gift with the utmost gratitude. This in turn adds to the parent's love for his child and causes the parent to want to give even more, all because he sees that his present is important and appreciated in the eyes of his child. Of course, the opposite is true if the child is ungrateful for the present.

Our sages tells us that Hashem loves us like a parent loves a child, and He wishes to give us more and more from His endless bounty. All we have to do is to show that we appreciate what He has already given us, by learning His Torah and fulfilling His mitzvot, and He will enrich our lives tenfold. Fortunately, Dave chose option "c", and, to his amazement, his parents surprised him with the Jeep and gave the computer to his little sister.

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