Tammuz 19
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Tammuz 19

These are the precepts that have no prescribed measure: the corner of a field [which must be left for the poor], the first-fruit offering, etc. (Peah 1:1).

This portion of the Talmud is recited in the introductory prayers of the morning service, in order that a person begin the day with a portion of the Oral Law. Of the hundreds of thousands of passages of the Talmud, why was this one selected?

This passage lists five items that have no prescribed measure. The implication is that other than these five, everything has a limit. With this important concept, we should begin our day.

Some people know no limits. Many behavioral excesses have joined the category of "olics," so that we now have not only alcoholics, but workaholics, foodaholics, chocoholics, sportaholics, worryaholics, etc. Any activity can be over done.

More of a good thing is not necessarily better, as people with obesity, for example, have discovered. Unfortunately, many people who do something to excess are not aware of their error. They believe that they are still acting within the normal range.

As with alcoholics, people who are affected by any excessive behavior are generally unable to set limits for themselves. Outsiders must make objective observations to recognize if reasonable limits have been exceeded. We would be wise to seek the appraisal of competent and interested people to help us determine whether we are functioning within the range of accepted norms.

Today I shall...

be aware that I may be exceeding limits in some aspects of my behavior and seek a competent outside evaluation of myself.

With stories and insights, Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...

Published: May 21, 2009

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(2) Anonymous, July 17, 2014 12:05 PM

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