On Shabbos Chol haMoed, both of Pesach and Sukkos, we lein from Parshas Ki Tisa beginning from Moshe's statement/complaint (33:12):
רְאֵה אַתָּה אֹמֵר אֵלַי הַעַל אֶת הָעָם הַזֶּה וְאַתָּה לֹא הוֹדַעְתַּנִי אֵת אֲשֶׁר תִּשְׁלַח עִמִּי וְאַתָּה אָמַרְתָּ יְדַעְתִּיךָ בְשֵׁם וְגַם מָצָאתָ חֵן בְּעֵינָי
Moshe said to Hashem, "Listen, you said I should lead these people, but you haven't told me what help I have."
Rashi immediately asks that we do find that Moshe had been told (23:20) that Hashem would send an angel to guide Bnei Yisrael. Why was Moshe saying that Hashem hadn't provided any guidance?
Rashi answers that Moshe was not happy with being told that an angel would be sent. That wasn't good enough. Moshe was saying Hashem, "We want the real deal -- You need to lead us. I need you to tell me that you are going to do that or we can't move forward."
The Tiferes Yosef quotes from the Ishbitza that these pesukim speak to us every Yom Tov. Pesach and Sukkos always correspond with the change of seasons, which means a change of periods in our life. The Yamim Tovim give us the spiritual energy to make that change and move to the next stage of our growth.
Angels are described as "omdim," standing. They don't grow; they are fixated in one spot. On the one hand, this means an angel can never regress. An angel cannot know failure or suffer disappointment. On the other hand, it also means an angel can never become more than it already is at the moment of its creation.
So we have a Pesach (or a Sukkos), we gulp down that spiritual energy, we reach spiritual heights. There are some people who think to themselves, "Wow, I wish I could hold on to this forever." But that attitude is a mistake. We need the leining to remind us to reject the temptation of the malach, of "omdim." Like Moshe Rabeinu, we need to turn to Hashem and say, "וְאַתָּה אָמַרְתָּ יְדַעְתִּיךָ בְשֵׁם," as much as we gained from Yom Tov (so far) we want even more, we are never satisfied, we want to connect to Ain Sof with no limits.
Friday, March 29, 2013
Thursday, March 21, 2013
the real answer to the ben rasha
I have not really started to look at the haggadah, but a thought occurred to me regarding the response to the ben rasha. First of all, what difference does it make to him, “Ilu haya sham, lo haya nigal?” What does he care what might have been – what was was; bottom line he and we are here today. Second of all, given that we are accusing him of being a kofer, what kind of threat it is to say that had he been there he would not have merited geulah – a kofer doesn’t believe in a miraculous geulah to begin with! To him it’s an empty threat. B’pashtus one could say that we are not answering the rasha at all, but simply declaring the truth for our own benefit, but then what’s the “hakheh es shinav” all about?
I think we are answering the rasha. The rasha is the guy who goes around asking questions that sound cool and are intellectually fashionable to ask. He is cutting edge in his thinking, meaning he mimics the latest trends among those who pose as thinkers and he parrots their slogans. Rasha, we see right through you. You are trying so hard to quash your neshoma, but you can’t win. My wife recently heard R’ Y. Y. Jacobson speak and he told a story of a man who called him who had done everything he could to distance himself from yahadut, but he was still convinced that he had not done enough. So he called R’ Jacobson and asked whether there some ritual he could do that would really permanently sever his ties with the Jewish people. As R’ Jacobson pointed out, the man obviously didn’t see the irony in his calling a Rabbi that practices a religion he doesn’t believe in to ask for a ritual he doesn’t believe in to cut himself off from a people he doesn’t associate with. That’s our rasha. Even amidst his disbelief, he can’t help but reveal the truth – he does believe. And maybe that’s why there is so little difference between the question of the rasha and that of the chacham. For all his posing and posturing, the rasha still speaks the language of amcha, of a chacham. “Ba’avur zeh asah Hashem li” means that geulah is addressed to each of us individually, and therefore, if someone’s neshoma is here today and was not cut off at its root in Mitzrayim (and really, how many new neshomos are there? Most probably this is just a recycled neshoma that had been in Mitzrayim with the rest of Klal Yisrael), there must be some redeeming quality that it has and some role for it to play in advancing Klal Yisrael (Why do I sound like I am channeling Gandalf the Grey talking about Gollum?) "Li v'lo lo" means the geulah is not for the pretend "lo," the alter-ego of evil. “Ilu haya sham,” if that neshoma really was where it tries to pretend it is, in those unholy places, then it wouldn’t be sitting with us at a seder asking silly questions. “Ilu haya sham,” as we once explained before, the word “sham” is the same root/idea as “shemama,” destruction (“Sham yashavnu gam bachinu…,” also think of Yosef in the pit, “Vayehi sham b’beis ha’sohar) – if that neshoma indeed was destroyed, desolate, as lost as it pretends to be, “lo haya nigal,” it would never have experienced the geulah that it obviously did at some point otherwise what would it be doing here? That’s the “hakeh es shinav.” What drives the rasha crazy is not threats, not condemnations, not telling him that he is lost, but rather just the opposite – telling him that as much as he tries, he can never really lose himself as much as he wants. Lo yidach m’menu nidach.
It's derush, but so what? There can be truth to it anyway.
Have a great Pesach!
issur melacha on erev Pesach
There is just too much to do to even think of writing anything meaningful before Y”T. Who has time to even go over the basic halachos well? So please excuse whatever errors you find here.
There is a machlokes Mordechai and Rokeach whether there is an issur of amira l’aku”m in having melacha done on erev Pesach. I saw the Aruch haShulchan (468:2) suggests that the nekudas hamachkokes is whether the issur melacha is derabbanan, in which case amira l’aku”m is not an issue, or whether it's a d’oraysa (as the Yerushalmi seems to hold). I thought one could explain it a bit differently. Maybe it’s not the chomer ha’issur – whether it's d’oraysa or derabbanan – which is the issue, but rather it’s the geder ha’issur. The gemara (BM 92) has a safeik whether there is an issur of amira l’aku”m only on Shabbos or by other issurim as well, and I believe we pasken l’kula. Yesh lachkor whether the issur melacha on erev Pesach is just an issur gavra like any other issur, or whether the issur stems from a certain kedushas hayom that the day has, like Shabbos? If the issur is like any other issur, then there should be no problem of amira l’aku”m. However, if erev Pesach has a keduashas hayom, then perhaps amira l’aku”m applies as well.
The din is that when shiva ends on an erev Y”T, the upcoming Y”T cancels the upcoming period of shloshim and one can do laundry and bathe and take a haircut even on erev Y”T. Rama adds that this kula applies “samuch l’chasheicha,” only close to nightfall, except on erev Pesach where it applies from chatzos. Why the difference? The GR”A explains that erev Pesach itself is called a moed. To some extend erev Pesach itself has a certain status as a holiday.
The Aruch haShulchan himself adds in parenthesis that the Rokeach writes that amira l’aku”m only applies on Shabbos, Y”T, and chol ha’moed. It seems to me that the point is not that the issurei melacha on these days is d’oraysa (which at least with respect to chol ha’moed is debatable), but rather the point is that these days all have a certain kedushas ha’yom. According to the Rokeach, that ingredient is absent on erev Pesach; according to the Mordechai, it's there.
My son had two arguments: 1) L’shitasi, the Rama in hil aveilus that says erev Pesach does have a special status is against the halacha here where l’ma’aseh we pasken that there is no issur of amira l’aku”m. I don’t think this question gets off the ground. Just because the Rama accepted the fact that the kedushas hayom is enough to push off shloshim does not automatically mean he has to accept that there is enough of a kedushas ha’yom to create an issur melacha. Even among days that share the common denominator of having a kedushas ha’yom, e.g. Shabbos, Yom Tov and chol ha’moed, there are gradations as what that kedusha implies, what nafka minos it carries with it. For example, there may be a common requirement of simcha in all of those days, but there are clear differences in terms of the level of issur melacha. 2) The gem in B”M sets up the safeik of whether amira l’aku”m applies to other issurim as a question of whether we compare those issurim to Shabbos, which is an issur sekila, or not. It sounds like the issue has nothing to do with kedushas ha’yom and everything to do with measuring the chomer ha’issur. This is a stronger argument than the previous point, but I’m always less bothered by the lason hagemara than my son is. I don’t see any problem in saying that the question of whether amira l’aku”m is a function of having a kedushas ha’yom or simply chomer ha’isur is itself part and parcel of the tzedadim of the safeik.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
the hidden spirit of the akeidah
The Torah tells us that a korban olah of a cow must be shechted "lifnei Hashem," but then a few pesukim later tells us that sheep must be shechted "tzafona fifnei Hashem" (1:11) Why the addition of the extra word "tzafona?" The Midrash writes:
When Avraham did the akeidah of Yitzchak, Hashem prepared two sheep offering [one in place of Yitzchak, one in place of the ram actually offered], one for the morning, one for the afternoon. Why did he do this? So that when the Jewish people offer the korban tamid and read this parsha of “tzafona lifnei Hashem” Hashem will remember akeidas Yitzchak. “I testify by heaven and earth that whether goy or yisrael, whether man or woman, whether eved or maid, whoever reads this parsha of ‘tzafona lifnei Hashem,’ Hashem will remember akeidas Yitzchak…”
Why is it the word “tzafona” in particular that is a reminder of the akeidah? Sefas Emes explains that in addition to “north,” the word “tzafon” also means hidden (there are a number of explanations as to how these two meanings are related, but they all strike me as speculative). Akeidas Yitzchak didn’t happen once and then become past history – the power of mesirus nefesh of the akeidah lives on hidden inside each one of us. When a person brings a korban he is in fact re-enacting in a small way the akeidas Yitzchak; he should feel that he is offering his entire self to Hashem but Hashem in his mercy chooses to accept a sheep as a substitute. The memory of the akeidah lives on through korbanos because through the korbanos we demonstrate that we embody within that spirit of the akeidah.
a lesson in humility
The Ba'al haTurim explains that the world "VaYikra" is written with a little aleph because Moshe Rabeinu in his humility wanted to leave out that letter and write "VaYikar," as if Hashem just appeared to him by chance. Hashem overruled him, so to speak, and the letter remains, but Moshe's modesty is acknowledged by its being a small letter.
Last post we discussed R' Akiva's ability to squeeze derashos and halachos out of every dot in Torah sheb'ksav. Even the crowns on top of the letters contain deep meaning. If so, imagine the wealth of Torah that might have been lost had an entire letter -- the letter aleph -- been omitted from the Torah! How could Moshe have thought to leave it out?
R' Shach (Rosh Amanah) answers that Moshe Rabeinu weighed that wealth of Torah against the lesson in humility that could be learned from his leaving out the letter and Moshe must have concluded that the lesson of humility is the more important one.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
every moment counts
I can’t remember how it came up, but this past Shabbos my wife mentioned something about the Midrash that tells the story of R’ Akiva’s audience falling asleep in the middle of his derasha. R’ Akiva woke them up with a question: Why is it that Esther ruled over 127 provinces? Because Sarah Imeinu lived 127 years. Meforshim explain that R’ Akiva was making the point that if every year of Sarah’s life added a country to Esther’s kingdom, by that token every month added a province, every day a city, every minute a street, etc. Avraham and Sarah were “ba’im ba’yamim,” they were able to bring every day of their lives to the table and show accomplishment. Their avodah was like daf yomi – never miss a day, never miss a daf. Esther was able to reap the rewards of that consistency. Think of what would have been lost if Sarah would have wasted even a few minutes of precious time! So falling asleep in the middle of a derasha and missing even a few moments of Torah is not a good idea.
I don’t think it’s coincidence that R’ Akiva is the one to make this point. The Yismach Moshe (in P’ Beshalach and P’ VaYakhel) writes that R’ Akiva glorified Torah sheb’ksav (this is probably a shock to those of you who learn R’ Tzadok and are used to R’ Akiva being portrayed as the personification of Torah sheb’al peh). The gemara (Menachos 29) tells us that R’ Akiva was able to darshen even the tagim on the tops of letters– every mark in Torah sheb’ksav, evey drop of ink on the parchment, R’ Akiva squeezed meaning out of. Everything in halacha has its roots in the written word. The irony of that gemara is that Moshe Rabeinu, the deliverer of Torah sheb’ksav to us, witnesses the genius of R’ Akiva and is comforted only by the fact that R’ Akiva is reduced finally to acknowledging something as a halacha l’Moshe m’Sinai, a law that has no textual basis. Moshe Rabeinu was jealous because R’ Akiva was beating him at his own game – torah sheb’ksav! We all know that a sefer Torah that is missing even a single letter is pasul. You can’t write a sentence here, a sentence there, jump around, leave blanks, etc. – a sefer must be written letter by letter, word by word, from beginning to end. Sarah Imeinu was a living sefer Torah. A lost moment in her life would be just like a tag missing on top of a letter. Who better than R’ Akiva, a man capable of darshening every dot, to warn us of the catastrophic danger of such a circumstance?
This is all past history, however, as the avodah of Nisan and Pesach is completely different. Pesach is about dilug, jumping. So you missed Brachos and Shabbos and already have missed a few blatt of Eiruvin – so what? Jump in! Klal Yisrael is at the lowest of low points of ruchniyus, the spiritual life has been squeezed out of them by Mitzrayim – so what? In a second they are pulled to the heights of geulah.
Parshas haChodesh is really a very strange name for the maftir of this past Shabbos, as there are maybe 2 or 3 pesukim that talk about the mitzvah of declaring rosh chodesh and the entire rest of the parsha focused on the laws of korban pesach. Why don’t we call it parshas hapesach? Why do we even mix in the laws of rosh chodesh here? Shem m’Shmuel answers that the Torah is introducing a shift in perspective. When your avodah is “ba ba’yamim,” to make every day and every moment count, it means time is your master; every moment demands attention. The message of parshas hachodesh is aderaba, you are the master over time. “Hachodesh hazeh lachem” – time is yours. That is not to say you should go ahead and waste it – time is a valuable resource! But it’s not an irreplaceable commodity. You *can* make up for lost time. If not for that ability to leap forward over missed deadlines and lost opportunities, to start afresh from this moment, a korban pesach and a chag hapesach would be impossible.
Thursday, March 07, 2013
Ksav Sofer: VaYakhel - Pekudei (2)
“Vayavo’u kol hachachamim ha’osim es kol mileches hakodesh ish ish m’milachto… marbim ha’am l’havi…” (34:4-5). A skilled craftsman has to be able to estimate the quantity of materials needed to do a job before he begins. Here, the Torah tells us that the craftsmen making the Mishkan came from their work, seemingly in the middle of the job, and told Moshe that the people had brought more than enough. Why didn’t they realize they had too much material before they began?
The Ksav Sofer answers by being medayek in the Torah‘s description of the craftsmen given a few pesukim earlier: “V’kol ish chacham lev… asher nasan Hashem chochma u’tevunah ba’heima la’da’as la’asos es kol mileches hakodesh l’kol asher tzivah Hashem” (34:1). A carpenter, jeweler, or craftsman is blessed by Hashem with certain skills, but these craftsmen could just as well use their skills to build a house, make a fine piece of jewelry, or fashion a beautiful piece of furniture as to make a Mishkan. The Torah here is not speaking about such people. It is talking about people who were blessed specifically with ability to do, “…mileches hakodesh l’kol asher tzivah Hashem,” the work of making a Mishkan – they could not use those skills and ability in any other area! These were not craftsmen or professionals who came to the job already in possession of certain skill set – these were people who came with no prior experience or training, with nothing more than their desire to help. Hashem blessed these people with a special bracha that enabled them to translate that desire into “mileches hakodesh” even if they had never done such work before.
The Midrash comments that the word “ba’heima” has the same letters as “beheima,” animal, hinting that Hashem even endowed animals with intelligence to help in the building of the Mishkan. Perhaps the Midrash is not meant to be taken literally, but is meant to emphasize that the skills used in building the Mishkan were a bracha given by Hashem in this special circumstance to even those born with two left hands, those who otherwise had no innate abilities and were no more skilled than animals.
It’s no wonder that these people did not realize in advance whether they had enough or too much material to do the work needed. They were literally learning (or being blessed with the knowledge needed) on the job as they did their work.
This idea is a klal gadol in accomplishing in Torah and avodah. “What do you want from me? – I don’t have the ability to do that,” is an easy excuse to avoid trying to rise to the next level of learning, of avodah, of making the effort to accomplish tzorchei tzibur. We assume the lamdan was born with genius, the ba’al avodah was born with great ability to concentrate in davening, the person who is a ba’al tzedoka or chessed always had that drive. But that’s not the case. What these people had more than anyone else is desire. If that ingredient is in place, even if we lack ability, Hashem will provide the skills and knowledge it takes, “la’asos es kol mileches hakodesh.”
This same theme is echoed in the closing of Parshas Pekudei. Rashi (39:33) writes that because Moshe did not have any job to do in building the Mishkan, Hashem left him with the final task of erecting the structure once it was completed. The boards and beams were too heavy to be lifted into place and the people were stuck. Hashem told Moshe that this was his personal task to accomplish. Moshe asked, “But how can I alone lift the boards?” Hashem answered that he just needed to make the effort; the rest will be accomplished by a miracle.
“K’chol asherh tzivah Hashem es Moshe kein asu Bnei Yisrael es kol ha’avodah” (39:42). Just as Hashem commanded Moshe – just as Hashem told Moshe that all he needed was to make an effort and Hashem would do the rest – so too with respect to the work of Bnei Yisrael. It was not the skill of the craftsman or the architects and engineers that ensured the success of the building, as even those with no skills or experience were free to participate. It was Hashem’s miraculous bracha. The overt miracle of the raising of the boards was the sign that even the success of the little details was the result of miraculous intervention as well.
Ksav Sofer on VaYakhel (1)
A few Ksav Sofers this week:
1) Rashi explains that the word “al” in the pasuk, “Vayavo’u ha’anashim al ha’nashim,” (35:22) means alongside. When the women came to donate to the Mishkan, their husbands came with them. Ksav Sofer quotes the halacha that “mah she’kansa isha kanah ba’alah,” whatever property a woman acquires belongs to her husband (unless a special stipulation is made.) Technically speaking women had no right to give away property or money to the Mishkan because they did not own what they were giving. Nonetheless, their husbands respected that desire to give, and so they came with their wives and showed their support and acquiescence to their wives’ donations and participation. I would suggest that the Torah is teaching us that building G-d’s house, his Mishkan, demands first building shalom bayis in your own home. The support of the husbands for their wives's avodah and vice versa is the foundation of that shalom.
2) The pasuk starts by telling us “Kol ish v’isha asher nadav libam osam l’havi…,” that every man and women who was so moved brought donations for the Mishkan, and then ends, “…havi’u Bnei Yisrael nedava l’Hashem,” that Bnei Yisrael brought donations for Hashem (35:29). There seems to be a redundancy here, as saying all the men and women gave donations and saying Bnei Yisrael gave donations amounts to the same thing. Ksav Sofer again returns to the point that not everyone had assets to give. Children who are minors do not halachically have ownership rights and therefore could not donate. These children's parents still very much wanted them to have a share in this great mitzvah of making a Mishkan. Therefore, instead of bringing their gifts themselves, the parents sent it with their children. “Bnei Yisrael” in the pasuk is not a proper noun, i.e. the Children of Israel, but rather is a common noun, i.e. the children, meaning the minors. Every “ish v’isha,” man and woman, donated, but it was “bnei Yisrael,” the children, who actually brought the gifts to Moshe. We've all seen parents who give their children coins to put in the pushka when it is brought around in shul. I wonder if this minhag yisrael has its roots in this pasuk. Children learn by doing, and it’s the delivery of those coins at a young age that inculcates in children the midah of chessed forever.
Monday, March 04, 2013
Moshe's question of "tzadik v'tov lo"
The gemara (Brachos 7) writes that when Moshe realized it was a sha’as rachamim, he made three requests of Hashem, one of which was that Hashem should explain why “tzadik v’tov lo, tzadik v’ra lo, rasha v’tov lo, rasha v’ra lo.” Why is it that there are righteous people who have it good and others who suffer; why is it that there are wicked people who have it good and others who suffer?
The gemara quotes a machlokes Tana’im whether Hashem acceded to this request or not. The Tana Kamma holds that Moshe was answered by Hashem. “V’chanosi es asher achon,” (33:19) is the response -- Hashem rewards those who deserve reward. The tzadik who has it good is a tzadik gamur who deserves it; the tzadik who suffers is a tzadik who is not completely up to snuff. The rasha who suffers is a rasha who is completely wicked and deserves punishment; the rasha who has it good is a rasha who is not completely bad.
The Chofetz Chaim (al haTorah) uses a mashal to explain why this is so hard for us to understand. A guest who is visiting a shul notices that the gabai seems to favor one half of the room, choosing most of the people who get aliyos and kibudim from a particular section. After davening the guest goes over to the gabai to complain about the obvious bias that perhaps only he as an outsider sees. “Silly man,” says the gabai, “Had you been here last week you would have seen that the people in the other half of the shul got more aliyos, and so this week I had to balance things out.” If a person can misunderstand a little thing like the distribution of aliyos based on a mistaken inference, kal v’chomer a person cannot hope to understand the workings of schar v’onesh in the universe based on his inferences from a limited sample of 70 years in this world.
R’ Meir disagrees and holds Hashem did not answer Moshe’s question. The pasuk, “V’chanosi es asher achon,” means that Hashem will reward even those who do not deserve it.
R’ Elimelech m’Lizensk, whose yahrzeit was yesterday, explains that the machlokes here is not about how to read the pasuk (see Maharasha) -- even R’ Meir agrees that the pashut pshat is like the Tana Kamma’s reading, that Hashem will reward and favor those who deserve favor and reward. R’ Meir, however, holds that when Hashem gives a tzadik chein, it’s not for the tzadik’s personal benefit alone. A tzadik is a conduit to bring bracha into the world; there is a trickle down effect. By rewarding the tzadik, Hashem ends up bringing bracha even to those who don’t deserve it on their own merits. The net result is that everyone benefits. (You can make the connection to R’ Elimelech himself and understand why I quote this torah in particular on his yahrzeit.)
Now that we’ve seen the gemara’s answer, let’s go back and take a better look at the question. Moshe’s seems to raising the classic question of theodicy – why do the righteous suffer and the wicker prosper? But if that alone was what troubled him, then the gemara should refer only to “tzadik v’ra lo… rasha v’tov lo.” Why does the gemara include in the question “tzadik v’tov lo… rasha v’ra lo,” the fact that there are righteous people who get their reward and wicked who suffer? This is as things should be – there is no mystery about that part of the equation, is there?
The Mahari”l Diskin reminds us that there is another gemara (Moed Katan 28) that “banei, chayei, u’mezonei lav b’zechusa talya elah b’mazla.” There is a power to what the gemara calls “mazal,” what we might call genetic makeup, personality, environment. These form the frame or context within which a person receives his schar v’onesh. A poor person might be blessed and move up to the middle class; the second string player may find himself in the starting lineup; however, it’s extremely unlikely that the pauper will suddenly become a millionaire, or that a person who is 5’ 2” will suddenly be drafted by the NBA. That’s what bothered Moshe. Rare though it may be, there are cases that are the exceptions to the rule. There are poor people who suddenly become rich overnight and players like Moggsy Bogues who make it big despite a lack of height. There are tzadikim who receive reward that completely defies the norms of nature – and then there are the vast majority who do not. Moshe was as mystified by the phenomenon of “tzadik v’tov lo” despite the effects of mazal as he was at there being a “tzadik v’ra lo.” How does the system work?
The gemara answers that we have to distinguish between the “tzadik gamur” and the “tzadik she’aino gamur.” The tzadik gamur who is completely righteous rises above his natural proclivities, and is in turn rewarded outside the normal teva/mazal boundaries (genetic, socio-economic, etc.) of nature. A tzadik who does good to the extent his natural talents allow for but does not push the envelope in turn is rewarded only to the degree that mazal allows. (The inverse holds true for the rasha.)
There seems, however, to be an exception to the rule that does not fit the gemara’s answer. Hashem promises, “B’chanuni nah b’zos,” (Malachi 3:10) that we can test him in one area: if a person gives tzedaka, Hashem promises to reward the person with wealth, “V’harikosei lachem b’racha ad b’li dai.” The Navi tells us that if you give tzedaka, you can max out the credit card, because the lottery or the dividend check or the tax refund is guaranteed. But what about mazal? If you have no head for business, if your investments fail, if your job never pays a bonus, how can you expect the supernatural to happen in defiance of your nature just because you gave tzedaka? Isn’t it only for the tzadik gamur who is a oveid Hashem in a superlative way that superlative things happen for?
The Mahari”l Diskin answers by quoting a Rambam in Shmoneh Perakim. Chazal tell us that a person should not say, for example, that pork is repulsive, but rather should say that it probably tastes good, just we can’t eat it. When you see the advertisement for a Big Mac, there is nothing wrong with your mouth watering – you just have to stop yourself from eating it. The Rambam adds a caveat: this rule is true only when speaking about mitzvos that defy rational explanation. However, when we are speaking about immoral behavior, the whole point of the mitzvah is to feel repulsion. A person should not walk around wanting to steal or murder but say that he can’t do it because the mitzvah prevents him – a moral, decent person does not feel the desire to begin with.
With this in mind we can explain why the reward for tzedaka is guaranteed. When it comes to mitzvos like kashrus, where the normal, expected reaction is to have a desire for that Big Mac, the reward is for going beyond what is normal and avoiding giving in to temptation. The tzadik gamur merits a reward outside the constraints of mazal because his actions are outside what is "normal" human behavior. However, when it comes to mitzvos like tzedaka, the behavior the Torah expects is the norm of how a decent person should act. Therefore, the reward too is built into the teva and is accessible to everyone.
The gemara is amazingly meduyak when it tells is that someone who gives tzedaka even for an ulterior motive, "al menas she'yichyeh b'ni," is considered a "tzadik gamur" (Pesachim 10). Just as the tzadik gamur receives reward that transcends mazal, in the case of tzedaka a normal person acting for his own benefit can still reap that same reward.
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