Two Types of Reward

This building project is reminding me of two kinds of reward.

It is a principle of faith that we believe in “reward and punishment” (Ie, G-d will reward us for keeping the Torah, and punish us for transgressing).

Why is the belief in reward so central to Judaism?  Aren’t we supposed to do what’s right because it’s right, not because of some stick and carrot game?  Is G-d like a manipulative parent, trying to bribe us into doing his bidding?

One answer is that there are two kinds of reward: (1) Arbitrary reward-  I’ll pay you to work and you can do whatever you want with the money or I’ll buy you a bicycle if you clean your room or get a good report card-  The money or bicycle has no intrinsic connection to the work being done.  (2) Build a home with your hands- The reward is the direct result of your handiwork. Clean your room and you’ll have a clean room.  The reward is a direct result of the work.

When G-d rewards us for keeping Torah, it’s not a bribe.  

The very commandments G-d gives us have intrinsic value, and they are the tools to make the world a holy place.  When we do a mitzvah, the mitzvah unleashes light and energy AND THAT VERY LIGHT AND ENERGY IS THE REWARD! (For now we have to wait until the afterlife to experience the light generated by our mitzvahs.  When Moshiach comes, the reward will manifest visibly in the world.

This is why belief in reward and punishment is so central to Judaism.  The belief that mitzvahs “do something” and generate this light, is central to Judaism.  If the only value of mitzvahs is their being a meaningless tradition that makes us feel good, we’re being duped and the religion is worthless!

I was thinking about this yesterday while learning to drive a bobcat.  I’ve been fortunate enough to contribute in a small way, to the manual labor of building this shul.  When it’s built, I know that I’ll feel the inherent reward of every action I took to help this dream come true.  And I can even feel it now.

This video is from yesterday on my second run.  This morning, I’m already much better.  It’s a good thing that finally I will have some marketable skills just in case the “rabbi thing” doesn’t work out.  I took a little video here.


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