Ahh! Pleasure… the feeling of complete muscle release. Having no worries, clearing your mind from the whirling hurricanes in your head and heart. Total and absolute relaxation.
In my “new life”, I’ve become accustomed to a lack of many creature comforts. Simple things like collapsing on a couch, or having sufficient breath to sing a song.
With this background, allow me to share the difference between a Tzaddik (a righteous person) and a Rasha (an evil person).
The final entry in Midrash Tanchuma teaches that a Rasha is considered to be dead – even while he is still alive.
Why? Because he sees the sun rising and setting, yet he fails to say the appropriate blessings. As well, he eats and drinks, but he neglects to say the correct blessings.
Not so a Tzaddik. Everything he tastes, hears and sees motivates him to say a blessing.
The question lurking beneath the surface is, had the Mishnah not been written, we would have assumed that a Tzaddik is differentiated from a Rasha by a wide schism. A Tzaddik performs the greatest mitzvos, while a Rasha commits the greatest aveiros.
The difficulty is blaring. While the Mishnah teaches us a significant difference between a Tzaddik and a Rasha, namely, that a Tzaddik says more blessings than a Rasha, we know that a much wider demarcation lies between them. Doesn’t a Tzaddik perform inspiring mitzvos, such as saving a life or teaching Torah to the multitudes? And doesn’t a Rasha commit horrible aveiros, such as extinguishing a life or robbing the life savings of a friend? Surely the Mishnah should choose matters way above and beyond the recital of blessings!
Apparently, the Midrash is not trying to teach us what a Tzaddik and a Rasha DO, rather, who they ARE. The very definition of a Tzaddik is one who recognizes and appreciates the environment around him. When he sees the sun rise or the sun set, he bursts forth with blessings, thanking Hashem for the incredible gift of day and night! When tasting delicious ice cream, he spontaneously erupts with a blessing, thanking Hashem for sensitive taste buds!
Not so a Rasha. His behavior upon seeing or tasting the wonders of “nature” is indifferent, much like a stone – unmoved and unfeeling to the phenomenal stimuli all around it.
So life is not so much about SAYING blessings, but LIVING blessings! We are practically drowning in the treasures and luxuries from Hashem, sent directly and specifically for each one of us.
So let’s soak it up! There’s no end to how much goodness we can absorb!