Imagine a man of great wealth who hears of a Jewish community, which was persecuted by the government, and their only salvation was to bribe the government: the cost being all of his wealth. With no other options, he decides to do this great mitzvah, leaving himself utterly penniless. He then turns to Hashem to ask for sustenance as many Jews do thrice daily in the brocho of “bareich aleinu”, which is dedicated primarily to our financial situation. “Hashem,” he pleads, “I did not receive any benefit in this world from this mitzvah. However, as a result of saving your people, I have been put into a dreadful financial predicament. It seems to me that it is in place for you to look upon me favorably and grant me a financial stability!”.
Rav Shimshon Pincus tells us the following: Moshe Rabbeinu gave his whole life for the advancement of Klal Yisrael, including producing water for them at the incident at “Mei Meriva.” Yet it was this very incident, while serving the klal, which resulted in Moshe being forbidden from entering Eretz Yisrael. In this week’s parsha, Moshe Rabbeinu asks of Hashem one last time to go into Eretz Yisrael. However, his request is not based on any good deeds that he did during the past 40 years (which he had many he could have asked reward for), rather he asked for a Matnas Chinam. In fact, Rav Pincus says, Moshe probably started out his request thanking Hashem for the golden opportunities that he was given to help out Klal Yisrael, though he was unworthy to do so.
Many of the halachos of the Three Weeks force people to compromise their normal rhythm of life: No music, limited showering, prohibition to purchase valuable goods, etc. Jews follow the Shulchan Aruch and adhere to these prohibitions until after Tisha B’Av, after which they are released from their obligations. At this time, many of them feel “I kept these very stringent halachas, so now am entitled to enjoy myself a bit”. This week’s parsha stands in the face of such an attitude. Moshe Rabbeinu did not feel that he was entitled to anything. He realized that doing the right thing in life doesn’t entitle you, rather it obligates you to appreciate those opportunities that Hashem gives you to serve him. Rav Avigdor Miller used to say that when a person sees another person in the street who is less fortunate than him (for example: a person wearing a cast), Hashem sent him your way in order for you to stop and appreciate the bracha that Hashem has given you.
We too, instead of feeling that “now I deserve (fill in the blank)”, should instead thank Hashem for the goodness which He bestowed upon us even during these trying times, of the past three weeks. Next time we hit a red light (figuratively as well), instead of being annoyed, let us use the opportunity to thank Hashem for having cars.