Baruch HaShem, I recently heard a life changing shiur.
Here's a very moving snippet of the amazing shiur:
A girl asked Rabbi Wallerstein -- "if HaShem loves us so much, then why did He give us 613 restrictions, while the goyim get 7 mitzvot bnei noach? If I had two children, and I loved one more than the other, I would give my beloved, favored son 7 simple chores and give the less loved one 613 chores/commands! So how can you possibly say that mitzvot are treasures and means to get closer to HaShem? How can we possibly enjoy doing them? How are they NOT burdensome?
The Rabbi's beautiful answer:
A big broadway producer, who won many awards and had a prestigious and honorable reputation in show business, was producing a new play that consisted mainly of dancing. During the auditions, she saw dancer, after dancer, after dancer. She didn't see the "wow" factor in any -- they were all ordinary dancers, and she was searching for an amazing dancer. A STAR. All of the sudden, one dancer comes in and WOWS the whole crowd. There were dance moves that were never even seen before, and the choreography was extremely unique. The producer was in awe. She jumped up and excitedly told the dancer "in my 40 years of show business, I have never seen anybody who has so much talent. You've got the part! This play will involve very rigorous dance moves, to show off your incredible talent and stun the audience. It will involve 613 different routines, and out of the three hours that the play consists of, you will be in just about every scene; almost three hours! 613 different moves all in one play! So, are you interested? Are you up for the challenge?"
The dancer thought about it. How she'll be written about in the magazines and receive wonderful reviews from critics. Sure, the rehearsals would be difficult and take a lot of work, but it's worth it! It's such an honor to be selected by a broadway producer and to show your talent to the world.
Every performer wants MORE time on stage. She would be the leader; the star! Of course, she gladly took the part.
The producer called over one of the ordinary dancers who auditioned. "You've got a part in the play. You'll have to practice a few basic dance moves, and basically, you'll perform for 7 seconds out of the 3 hour show. Are you interested?" It was broadway, of course, so she took the part. Afterall, 7 seconds is better than none!
This show went on for 20 years and continued to get great and raving reviews. The producer and dancer became extremely close to each other. She knew the dancer's every move -- when she was upset, when she was happy, which dance move was in which scene, etc. What was the producer's relationship with the 7 second dancer? Existing and significant, but in comparison to the main star, barely comparable!
This is a mashal to our relationship with HaShem. It is a privilege! He went to different nations, and they all said they can't be the main dancer (the main nation) in this play (the world). They asked HaShem what's in the Torah, and when He told them, they declined His offer. So, instead of giving them the Holy Torah with 613 mitzvot, He gave each nation 7 mitzvot.
The last one to audition in the big play, (the 6,000 years of this world), was Am Yisrael. HaShem said "show me your best!" -- and they said "Naaseh veh Nishma." And then HaShem said - "you've got the job! I'll give you 613 movements to practice for the play, and each movement in the dance will bring you closer to Me."
How can one complain that (s)he got the main part in the play, instead of the 7 seconds? One's outlook should be: I want to dance for HaShem every day! Every moment that I possibly can! I want to be on that stage. I want to be the main dancer, the main singer, the main actor. The main star! Who wants the 7 second job?
We need to view mitzvot as absolute treasures. 613 precious treasures. 613 guidelines towards our mission in this world. They're expressions of love for HaShem and appreciation for choosing us to be the Am Segulah. They're not 613 chores, chas v'shalom!
When one has this outlook, how can (s)he ever resent a mitzvah? On the contrary,(s)he looks forward to every mitzvah! (S)he looks forward to take every opportunity to pray, to help someone, to make a bracha, to learn more about Judaism; all in order to form (and keep) a relationship with HaShem.
The Jewe prides himself on good middot and strong emunah. The Jewess is a princess; the Jew is a prince. All of our fellow Jews are fellow princesses and princes and should be treated as such. All because HaShem is our King.
As Rabbi Benzion Klatzko beautifully said in his shiur -- "Judaism is not a religion. It's a relationship!"
With that outlook in mind, what is Shabbat? Shabbat is 25-26 hours of connecting to HaShem on every level! It has all the joys of the world that we can possibly experience, and holiness that is beyond basic comprehension. Shabbat is about tefillah, rest from the MUNDANE of our week (school, work, textbooks, paper, our cell phones, our cars, etc.) in order to focus on what REALLY counts -- olam habah, HaShem, learning Torah, mitzvot, family, spirituality, our neshamot!
May we embrace the Shabbat Queen and our neshama yetera with full ahavah and emunah, and may this chodesh shvat be full of "besorot tovot" - only good news, health, happiness, clarity, and closeness to HaKadosh Baruch Hu!
(Shevat = Shin.Bet.Vet. = "sh'yehiyu be'sorot tovot")
Shabbat shalom u'mevurach! :)