To many people it does not ring true to life. How often does virtue seem to go unrewarded, how often do the wicked seem to flourish? Does life prove that there really is a reward for obedience and a punishment for defiance?
An answer is suggested by a well known piece of advice given by the Chafetz Chayyim to a young man who was about to enter upon military service. “What shall I do,” the young man asked, “if I can’t get kosher food or keep Shabbat whilst I am on army service?”
The Chafetz Chayyim told him, “The Torah recognises that there are emergencies. You do not have to starve or put your life in jeopardy by reason of being in the military. If you have to eat t’refah, eat it – but don’t suck the bones. If you have to break Shabbat, do so – but don’t enjoy it!”
What is the worst punishment for a transgression? That you know you are transgressing, and it gives you no pleasure. And the highest reward for doing a mitzvah? That you derive pleasure from doing the right thing.