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Cheshvan 23

For this thing (observance of the mitzvos) is extremely close to you, in your mouth and in your heart to do it (Deuteronomy 30:14).

Given the 365 restrictions and prohibitions of the Torah and the demand for performance of 248 mitzvos, how can Moses say that it is not only easy to observe, but that it is extremely close to you; i.e. extremely easy to do?

The answer lies in one simple word that is repeated no less than fourteen times in this short (forty-verse) portion of the Torah: "Today." Moreover, the word appears superfluous; every verse could read just as well without it. The Torah must be telling us that if we concentrate on today's challenges and leave tomorrow's for tomorrow, then this challenge is extremely easy to accomplish.

I have seen this message in my own work. When people who have abused alcohol for decades come for treatment of their alcoholism, they can be extremely frightened by the prospect that they will never again be able to take a drink. Giving up alcohol for life appears to be virtually impossible. The method that works best in overcoming alcoholism is that advocated by Alcoholics Anonymous: since you can do nothing today about tomorrow's sobriety, don't worry today about how you will stay sober tomorrow. You will have ample opportunity to concern yourself tomorrow about tomorrow's challenge. Today, just take care of today.

Today I shall...

try to concentrate on those things that are within my capacity to do today, and avoid worrying about challenges that are not within today's range of action.

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

May 21, 2009

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