No, my son, these bills are yours to pay!

No, my son, these bills are yours to pay!

This week we did a perfunctory lesson on the Mitzva to be happy with the Jewish Holidays. This week for our “spark”, we will learn a Mashal, a parable that is important to remember.There once was a very wealthy man. He had loads of money, acres of mansions, a garage full of Lamborghinis and tons of cash on hand. He also had two sons, as different as, well, as different as the sun is from a raincloud. One son was an uptight one, careful about his appearances, eager to learn his father’s business, out to climb the social ladder. The other son, well he was more of a simple soul. He was happy with anything given him, loved getting to know people, didn’t try impressing anyone, just the kind of person who wouldn’t hurt a fly.

There once was a very wealthy man. He had loads of money, acres of mansions, a garage full of Lamborghinis and tons of cash on hand. He also had two sons, as different as, well, as different as the sun is from a raincloud. One son was an uptight one, careful about his appearances, eager to learn his father’s business, out to climb the social ladder. The other son, well he was more of a simple soul. He was happy with anything given him, loved getting to know people, didn’t try impressing anyone, just the kind of person who wouldn’t hurt a fly.The father wanted his sons to try their own mettle and find fortune their own way. He sent them off from his hometown, asking them to go experience life and discover their own way toward a fulfilling life.

The father wanted his sons to try their own mettle and find fortune their own way. He sent them off from his hometown, asking them to go experience life and discover their own way toward a fulfilling life.The go-getter son quickly got married, to a woman who knew the finer things in life, too. She, too, was a social climber, and they clawed their way to the top quickly. Their children got accepted to the best schools, wore the designer clothing, went to the right bungalow colonies. This son made sure he had the best seat in shul, had the right zip code on his house and had the leased car of the latest fad car model. His brother, however, what an embarrassment his brother to him. Such a schlemiel, you couldn’t find a bigger schlep around.

The go-getter son quickly got married, to a woman who knew the finer things in life, too. She, too, was a social climber, and they clawed their way to the top quickly. Their children got accepted to the best schools, wore the designer clothing, went to the right bungalow colonies. This son made sure he had the best seat in shul, had the right zip code on his house and had the leased car of the latest fad car model. His brother, however, what an embarrassment his brother to him. Such a schlemiel, you couldn’t find a bigger schlep around.

Let’s talk about our schlemzael brother. He was still in a rented two-bedroom apartment with loads of kids. They wore hand-me-downs, they davened in a small shtiebel, where Aliyos went, maybe tops, for $10. The kids got into school only after much begging, crying and nights of no sleep. These kids were never picked for play, or G.O. But they were a lovely bunch of kids, frum, lively, amazing middos. Just not the type of kid the ritzy kids wanted to befriend. Vacation for this family consisted of outings to the local park. The car was nice and Yeshivish, with duct-taped fender and crumbly seats.

Many years passed and the father was getting on in years. He actually had commissioned a Sefer Torah to be written, and now it was complete. He was going to throw a big bash, a most magnificent feast of thanksgiving and merriment. He sent two invitations to his two sons, to the Baalebatish one at his fancy zip code, and another one to his plain son in the 2-bedroom apartment. In the invitation sent to the rich brother, the father wrote, “Please, my son, I am begging of you to take care of my honor. Make sure to arrange that you and your brother arrive in style befitting my income level. Any expense you undertake to make sure your family and your brothers’ family arrive looking good and appropriate for the party will be reimbursed by me fully. Anything you expend toward honoring me will be paid back in full. Spare no expense, I beg of you.”

The rich brother and his wife were overjoyed. The next day, they started their shopping. Diamond choker, earrings, tennis bracelet. Arrangements for a rented limo – stretch, stretch, stretch one. Tailored clothing with imported fabrics. And with a nod to the father’s request, hand-me-down clothing sent to the other family. A rented school bus for their transport. And the shopping continued. New spiffy shoes. Designer headbands for the girls and Borsalino hats for the boys. And the spending continued. Orchid corsages and silk hand-painted ties.

Came the day of the shindig and the rich father awaited his kids anxiously at the door of the hall. All notables, all the uber rich were there with him. All gasped in appreciation as the crystal-ice-blue stretch-stretch-stretch limo pulled up. First came the mother, a dazzling picture of diamonds and fur. Then came the children, as if magazine models came to life. Then came the father, staid, dignified, his suit shoulders looking as if it had been carved onto him. The father beamed proudly as guests whispered respectfully.

But, wait, what comes here. A shabby bus drives up. You can tell the air conditioning didn’t work by the windswept hair and trickles of perspirations visible on every child that tumbles down the school bus steps. “Who’s that?” the father can hear the whispered shocked questions, and the equally unsettling murmured answers, “That’s his other son and family.” The father’s face starts turning red, getting redder by the moment as one sees the shaitel of the mother, the thinning parts hopelessly attempted to be camouflaged with a creative flower or two. There is the cute-as-a-button cheder yingele, with his shoe sole ripped and flapping hello. The little girls, with their hand-me-down frocks feel pretty, but you can see the wear and tear that these dresses have seen better years. And then there was the son, his face lighting up the room, his hug to his father real as anything, but his suit shiny from years of use.

The father said nothing. He hugged his sons tight, gave loving pats to all his grandchildren and then went to enjoy his festive party. That night, after the last guest had left and only family still remained in the hall, the well-to-do son pulled out a hefty file. “Here, Ta, are the receipts,” he said, handing them over to his father, “you can pay me back now.” Every last receipt, down to the manicure expense of his wife, was neatly copied and filed in its place. The tab ran into the thousands.

The father looked his son in the eye and said, “Sorry, son, this is your expense. I am not paying a penny of it.”

“What?! I can’t afford this. You promised me, father. Ta, you said to me you’d pay. I would have never spent this money, if I knew you wouldn’t pay me back. You promised, Ta!”
And the father shook his head sadly and said, “No, my son. I promised anything you spend to honor me and make me look good, I’d reimburse. But all the money you spent was to honor yourself. If you had cared about my honor you would have made sure your brother and his family looked as good as yours. You caused me great embarrassment when everyone saw that your brother’s family was neglected and not taken care of. No, my son, these bills are yours to pay, for you meant only your own honor and desires.”

My friends, this parable tells us the way of G-d when it comes to expenses of Shabbos and Yom Tov. G-d promises that monies spent for the honor of Shabbos and Jewish holidays is reimbursed generously. However, know well, that if you are plunking down cash for Yom Tov for great outfits and yummy foods, but are not caring what happens to G-d’s poor children, to your needy brethren, then when you come to collect reimbursement from G-d, prepare to hear, “No, my son, you spent that money, not for Yom Tov and not for Shabbos, but for your own edification. And that I will not reimburse. For, if you meant the real Mitzva of Simchas Yom Tov, you would surely have provided food and clothing in abundance to the poor of our nation.”