Acharei Mot-Kedoshim 5770
GOOD MORNING! What is the value of time? Many of us live our lives as if we will live forever, putting off even important things for another day. The great rabbi, the Chofetz Chaim, wrote that every person believes that there is a club for people who die - and that they don't belong to the club.
The Torah teaches us to value time. Every moment is precious. Every moment a person can do good, perfect his character, make the world a better place. The Almighty gives us a limited amount of time and it is up to us to make the most of it.
Akavya ben Mahalalel teaches us (Pirkei Avos, Ethics of Our Fathers, 3:1) to keep in mind during our daily activities "before Whom we will receive judgment and accounting." Our actions are accountable. What is the difference between "judgment" and "accounting"? The Vilna Gaon explains that "judgment" is regarding what you actually did with your time - the good deeds or the misdeeds. "Accounting", however, refers to the unfulfilled potential that each of us could have accomplished with our time, had we been careful with it and used it to our best advantage.
Many people speak of "killing time" - of doing something entertaining or amusing between important activities. Time being precious compels us to have something to accomplish or to learn, should we have free time. One can carry a small book or have a class or lecture podcast on his mp3 player (check out AishAudio.com).
Our sages teach us that if we truly want to make the most of our time in this world, we should do a daily accounting before we go to sleep. This is called a "Cheshbon HaNefesh" - perhaps best translated as a "Soul Reckoning." How do you do it? Ask yourself 4 questions: (1) What is my purpose in life? (2) What did I do towards my purpose or away from my purpose? (3) What could I do better tomorrow? (4) What is more important to accomplish and live for? It is also an excellent idea to review your interactions with others to know if there is anyone to whom you should apologize or help.
Life is often tough. It can be very strengthening to focus on the fact that If you are still here, then the Almighty is giving you this time for a purpose and you have not yet completed your job in this world.
The following anonymous "refrigerator piece" can help one appreciate the value of time:
"Imagine there is a bank that credits your account each morning with $86,400. It carries over no balance from day to day. Every evening deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day. What would you do? Draw out every cent, of course!
"Each of us has such a bank. Its name is TIME. Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day's deposits, the loss is yours. There is no going back. There is no drawing against the "tomorrow." You must live in the present on today's deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness and success! The clock is running. Make the most of today!"
For more on "Value of Time" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
Acharei Mot includes the Yom Kippur service where the Cohen Gadol cast lots to designate two goats - one to be sacrificed, the other to be driven to a place called Azazel after the Cohen Gadol - the High Priest - confesses the sins of the people upon its head. Today it is a very popular epithet in Israel to instruct another person in the heat of an argument to "go to Azazel." (I don't believe the intent, however, is to look for the goat.)
The goat sent to Azazel symbolically carried away the sins of the Jewish people. This, I surmise, is the source of the concept of using a scapegoat. One thing you can truly give credit to the Jewish people - when we use a scapegoat, at least we use a real goat!
The Torah then proceeds to set forth the sexual laws - who you are not allowed to marry or have relations with. If one appreciates that the goal of life is to be holy, to perfect oneself and to be as much as possible like God, then he/she can appreciate that it is impossible to orgy at night and be spiritual by day.
The Torah portion of Kedoshim invokes the Jewish people to be holy! And then it proceeds with the spiritual directions on how to achieve holiness, closeness to the Almighty. Within it lie the secrets and the prescription for Jewish continuity. If any group of people is to survive as an entity, it must have common values and goals - a direction and a meaning. By analyzing this portion we can learn much about our personal and national destiny.
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"Love your fellow as yourself, I am God" (Leviticus 19:18).
What does this mean?
The Rambam, Moshe Maimonides, writes: "We are obligated to love every single fellow Jew as ourselves, as the Torah states, 'Love your fellow as yourself.' Therefore, we must praise others, and we must care about their money just as we care about our own money and our own dignity. Whoever derives honor from humiliating someone else, loses his share in the World to Come" (Hilchos Daios 6:3).
The commandment to love your fellow human being can be fulfilled at all times, every single second of the day. Any favor or kindness that you do for someone is a fulfillment of this commandment. However, the commandment can also be fulfilled through thought.
When you are happy about the good fortune of someone else, it constitutes an act of love. For instance, if you hear that someone just gave birth to a child and you feel happy, you fulfill this commandment.
The same applies when someone suffers misfortune. If you feel sad because of his suffering, you fulfill this commandment. By fulfilling this commandment properly, a person can easily amass thousands upon thousands of mitzvos (Yesod V'Shoresh Ha'Avodah 1:7-8).
The difficulty of fulfilling this commandment lies in the fact that most people are inclined to be jealous of others. When they hear about someone's good fortune, their jealousy is aroused and prevents them from being sincerely happy.
Therefore, it is extremely important for a person to work on rectifying his trait of jealousy. Another important factor that will enable a person to love his fellow is judging them favorably. For if even once you do not judge someone favorably, you will no longer be able to feel a complete love for him (ibid.).
CANDLE LIGHTING - April 23
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Time flies ... but you're the pilot.
With Deep Appreciation to
Rabbi Kalman Packouz
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