Growing Each Day by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski

Sivan 29
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Theft of an object is theft, and theft of time is theft (Mesilas Yesharim, Chapter 11).

Stealing is abhorrent to most people. They would never think of taking something which does not belong to them. Still, they may not be bothered in the least by making an appointment and keeping the other person waiting for a few minutes. Rabbi Luzzato points out that this double standard is a fallacy, because stealing others' time is no less a crime than stealing their possessions.

Moreover, stealing time is worse in one aspect: stolen objects can be returned, but stolen time can never be repaid.

Not every lateness is a theft. Sometimes, circumstances totally beyond our control can cause us to be delayed. Still, many realistic factors can be foreseen and should be taken into account. If the usual travel time between two points is fifteen minutes, we should provide an extra few minutes for a very likely possibility - congested traffic.

According to Jewish law, someone who stole an object from another cannot be forgiven by God until he or she has made restitution and received forgiveness from the owner. Without these two premises, even Yom Kippur does not atone one's sin. This rule also applies if one has caused another person a loss of time.

If someone has wrongfully infringed on our time, it is proper that we should call it to his or her attention. As with other offenses, we should try to sincerely forgive if the offender changes his or her ways. If we have infringed on someone else's time, we must be sure to ask forgiveness and to remember that teshuvah consists of a sincere resolution not to repeat the same act again.

Today I shall...

be extremely careful not to cause anyone a loss of time, and if I have done so, ask forgiveness.

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


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