April 22, 2024
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April 22, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

We’ve probably all seen little toddlers play­ing with keys. They could be real, jingly metal keys, or large, clackety, plastic keys, but they seem to like keys. As they grow up, some children still like keys. Often, boys of a certain age, perhaps 10 or 11 years old, look at keys as a sign of greatness. Whether it’s pow­er, importance, control, responsibility, or trust, some kids love to walk around with bunches of keys, often clipped onto their belts, and they have a key for everything from their house to their bike to the suitcase they used last sum­mer when they went to visit Zaydie. They feel very connected to their keys as if the keys were a piece of their identities.

I never realized just how much a part of our culture this was until a Hasidic fellow from Isra­el who was visiting to collect money asked me, “Are you very important?” Seeing that I was tak­en aback by this unusual question, he clarified in his halting, limited English, “You have much keys.”

My initial reaction was to respond that I didn’t have many keys at all! I have my house key and a car key on my ring, plus a few super­market loyalty cards. Did I really have “much” keys? I assured him I wasn’t really important, gave him a donation, and that was that. Awk­ward situation avoided.

This event has remained with me, in my memory, as if it just happened. Perhaps he was looking for a larger donation and wanted to get on my good side by mentioning that as I took my keys out of my pock­et to open my door, I looked like an important fellow. Per­sonally, I felt the whole idea of having keys making you im­portant was a ridiculous and preposterous one.

On a deeper level, though, it’s absolutely correct. What does a key symbolize? It de­clares that the holder of it is trustworthy enough to guard something that is so precious it needs to be locked away. The more keys one has, the more places he is trusted. If a person is so trusted, he must be im­portant to the people who rely on him to keep their valuable items safe.

Forget the aspect of having physical keys. I recall some kids who would pick up keys from the street or add multiple copies of the same key just to have more keys on their ring. But we all have been entrusted with keys by God, and that’s what we need to think about.

The Gemara in Taanis 2a-b relates that there are three keys that HaShem does not give to human beings for long, or at the same time. Those are the keys to bearing children, rain, and reviving the dead. Though certain prophets had some of these “keys” at specif­ic times, none were entrusted with all of them all the time. However, when they WERE given these keys, they were to use them wisely, prop­erly, and for the good of mankind.

You may not be able to revive the dead (though getting your kids up for school some days may seem like it), but you can revive someone’s spirit by offering him/her a smile and a kind word. Maybe saying, “It’s so nice to see you again!” to a fellow who looks lonely qualifies as your Techiyas HaMaisim.

You may not control the rain, which is linked to parnasah, but you can try to help someone who needs a job. Maybe you can write résu­més and can give them some pointers, or sim­ply have them in mind in your prayers.

There are other keys, too, with which we have been entrusted. These are the talents, abilities, and gifts that HaShem has bestowed upon us to be used for a purpose. We are not given greatness for personal gain, but to fulfill the Torah and mitzvos and be a productive member of soci­ety.

The fellow was right. I have “much” keys. I am important be­cause only I can use the keys en­trusted to me. This is the same importance that each of us has. We’ve each been given keys, and doors and locks to which they go, in order to fulfill some mission in God’s Creation.

You are important, and you, too, have “much” keys. So go out and see just how many doors you can open when you use the gifts HaShem has given you.

Jonathan Gewirtz is an inspirational writer and speaker whose work has appeared in publications around the world. For more information, or to sign up for or spon­sor the Migdal Ohr, his weekly PDF Dvar Torah in Eng­lish, e-mail [email protected] and put Subscribe or Sponsor in the subject. © 2014 by Jona­than Gewirtz. All rights reserved.

By Rabbi Jonathan Gewirtz

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