My Bubie says that many things in the world happen because people have desire. It is one of the characteristics that Hashem gives to us and when used for the good, the world becomes a better place. I didn’t really understand what it means to have desire and so my Bubie told me the following story…
Yossele was a young boy of around 11 years old who wanted to ride a bicycle so badly that he looked for friends in the neighborhood who owned bikes. Every time his grandparents took him to the park they would bring a bike from one of the children in their neighborhood and let Yossele ride it all around the park. His parents would not let him have a bicycle and that made him want it even more.
Yossele had a sister, Shirel, who was 9 years old. She was not interested in bicycles but very interested in cameras. Shirel had an Auntie who had a camera and she also saw tourists come into her neighborhood carrying cameras and taking pictures. She loved to take pictures of people and nature when her Auntie would let her borrow her camera. One time her grandparents brought a camera to her house to take pictures of all of the children and they let Shirel take it around the neighborhood to photograph nature. She took some beautiful pictures which showed that she had an artistic eye for seeing beauty. Shirel wanted a camera so badly that she and her friend thought to save their money together and then buy one. Her parents would not let her have a camera and that made her want it even more.
Once there was a whole group of people. They were called the Jewish people and they had a history that was very long, from their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their four mothers, Sara, Rivka, Rachel and Leah, that went back 5,000 years. Throughout all of the stories written about the Jewish people from the time of Avraham, the Jews wanted to live in the Land of Israel, Eretz Yisrael. It was the land that Hashem brought Avraham and his followers to live in, to build and to make the world a better place. There were many times in which the Jewish people lived and ruled in the Jewish homeland and many times when many of them were sent away and lived in different countries all over the world. However, the Jews always wanted, so badly, to return to the Land of their people, to live there and to build it. Many of the rulers of the world would not allow the Jews who had left return and that made them want it even more.
So what do you think Yossele did with his desire (which means to want something really badly) to have a bicycle? What do you think you would do? Yossele had a good friend who had an old bike and told Yossele that he would sale it to him for very little money. Yossele bought the bicycle from his friend. When his grandfather saw that he had bought the bicycle, he told Yossele that he would bring it to the bike shop to check that it was safe, the brakes worked and the chain was steady. Yossele also took his grandfather with him to buy a strong chain lock so that he could lock the bike and not have to worry about someone stealing it.
So what do you think Shirel did with her desire to have a camera? Shirel decided that she would continue to save her money and that hopefully, when she had enough money, her parents would change their minds and let her buy the camera. Everything she saw she thought about how she would frame it in the lens of the camera and how the picture would turn out. This is one desire that she would not give up on. The pictures that she took from her grandparents’ camera they had copied and put in an album for her. She cherished the pictures and looked at them often and thought about other pictures that she hoped to take someday.
And the Jewish people, what did they do with their desire to come back to the land of Israel? In the year 1948, Hashem made a big miracle and helped the Jewish people return to the land. Many people died fighting to get the land back, just like the battles in the Bible (Tanach), but in the end, the Jewish people came back and established Israel, a country that was open to any Jewish person who wanted to return to the land and build it. Those Jews who had such a strong desire to return to the Jewish homeland came and built the land. They were farmers, merchants, teachers, doctors, engineers, students and lots and lots of children. Israel was the best land for Jewish children because they could grow up in a place where all of the Holidays (chagim) came at the right time in the calendar. For example, for Succoth everyone could build a succah and eat in it. In many countries, outside of Israel, during Succoth it rained or snowed and the succah would fall down and you couldn’t eat your meals or sleep in it.
Yossele continued to ride his bicycle with his friends. He was very good about sharing his bicycle with other boys who did not have a bicycle because he understood what it meant to have a desire for something. Shirel continued to have a desire for a camera and saved her money and thought about the different pictures that she wanted to take someday. And, as for the Jewish people, every year on the fifth day of the Hebrew month of Iyar, they would have a big celebration with music, dancing, barbecues and getting together with friends and family to thank Hashem and all of the soldiers who had helped to fulfill the desire of the Jewish people to return to the land of Israel, to settle and to build it.
You see, having a strong desire for something causes you to plan, to work hard and to sometimes make a sacrifice (which means giving up one thing to get another because what you want to get is even more important than what you have to give up). Even though having a strong desire can sometimes make us sad, because we feel we want something that we don’t have, when we finally get it, we are so happy. We are happier than if we had received that gift without hard work and planning. This is the nature of desire, it makes us act and God willing, our actions will always be for the good and bring about only good things like a bicycle, a camera and a Jewish Country!