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ב"ה

TODAY IS A GIFT

Friday, 1 April, 2022 - 12:16 am

They tell this story about Winston Churchill. As Savior of the free world, he felt himself entitled to grab a little shuteye (nap) in the House of Commons. When a fellow Parliament member approached him and said, “Must you fall asleep when I am speaking?”

Churchill answered, “No, it is purely voluntary.”

The Rambam rules in his laws of Tefillah:

When Rosh Chodesh Nisan falls on Shabbat, three Torah scrolls are used. The weekly Torah portion is read from the first, the reading of Rosh Chodesh from the second, and Parshat HaChodesh from the third.

Thus, this Shabbat is one of those extremely rare occasions when we take out three Torah Scrolls, since we read three distinct portions—Tazria, Pinchas and Bo.

We do the same each year on the holiday of Simchat Torah, there are two other times during a year when, if various calendric variables fall in place, three portions of the Torah are read on the same day.

The question is obvious. Taking out the Torah is an awesome and deeply serious moment—it is compared to taking out, in the days of yore, the Holy Ark from the Holy of Holies and carrying it to a new location. That is why we sings this powerful verse when we take out the Torah Scroll:

So it was, whenever the Ark set out, Moses would say: Arise, O Lord, may Your enemies be scattered and may those who hate You flee from You.

That’s why the prayers said when the Torah is brought out of the Ark, are considered very auspicious. We also declare the Shema Yisrael and we recite the “Berich Shmay,” which represent deeply heartfelt requests pertaining to all of life. Taking out the Torah Scroll, in a word, is intense.

Why, then, would we just take out three Torah—when we can simply take out one Torah and quickly roll it from one portion to the next between readings? In fact, that is exactly what we did in our synagogue till we received three Torah’s!

The same question arises when we take out two Torah scrolls: Why the need to do this, when we can simply roll one scroll to two places.

The answer is presented by the Rambam:

A Torah scroll should not be rolled from one portion to another portion in the presence of the community, because of the difficulty it would cause the people, forcing them to remain standing while the Torah scroll is being rolled. Therefore, if it is necessary to read two separate concepts, two Torah scrolls are taken out…

But how long does it take to roll the scroll from one portion to another? It takes no more than 2 to 5 minutes.

Or, to put it in other words, what comes first, the Torah or the people? Why do we have to schlep out the 3 Torah’s just for the sake of not causing the people the need to wait for a few minutes? Is that respect for the Torah?

The answer is clear. With this, our tradition teaches us how we ought to view the preciousness of a single moment in the life of every single person. As a wise man said, “Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.”

We might think: What’s the big deal. We will roll the Torah Scroll, it will take a few minutes, and the crowd will just hang around till the next reading. Comes our tradition and says: No! a minute of a Jew—is precious beyond description. We will take out three Torah scrolls, to underscore how sacred every moment to be used to its utmost potential.

There’s only one thing more precious than our time and that’s who we spend it on. My son sent me this text message this week: Spend your money on the thing’s money can buy; spend your time on the thing’s money can’t buy.

If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.

The Rebbe once said: “The world says: ‘time is money;’ I say time if life!”

Imagine there is a bank which credits your account each morning with $86,400.00, carries over no balance from day to day, allows you to keep no cash balance, and every evening cancels whatever part of the amount you had failed to use during the day.

What would you do? Draw out every cent, of course!

Well, everyone 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.

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.

Time waits for no one. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it's called the ‘present.’

As the saying goes, to realize the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who missed the train. To realize the value of ONE SECOND, ask a person who just avoided an accident. To realize the value of ONE MILLISECOND, ask the person who won a silver medal in the Olympics.

You know the story of the man who came to the therapist for a very serious problem.

“How can I help you?” asks the therapist.

Yes, says the patient. Please tell me what time is it?

Therapist: Three o'clock.

Patient: Oh, no! G-d help me.

Therapist: What's the matter?

Patient: I've been asking the time all day. And everybody gives me a different answer!...

Aristotle once asked his students: Who is the greatest teacher who kills all his students?

The answer: Time!

The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.

If this is true about a moment of life, or a few moments of life, how much truer it is about a life itself—from a Torah point of view, the value of a life, and even the value of a body which once carried life, has extraordinary and infinite significance.

Which is why all the Jewish people shed a tear, or more than one, watching what happened this past 10 days in Israel, when you hear about a terror attack in Beer Sheva, Chadera, Bnei Brak and other places killing 11 innocent people can one just go on with his or her regular routine? The heart is shattered. We want to scream; how can it be? How can it be that in 2022 Jews are still being slain because they are Jewish in their own homeland and life continues as normal?

As the Rebbe said during the last Farbrengen when Shabbat fell out on Rosh Chodesh Nissan (in 1991)— when we bring out three Torah’s has the power of carrying out three holy Arks, and the words of Moses at the time have special relevance:

Arise, O Lord, may Your enemies be scattered and may those who hate You flee from You. The Divine essence in each and of us has the power to arise and reveal itself in its full glory and splendor. Together with that, it gives us the strength to confront all of our inner and outer enemies, all the adversity we face, all the insane inner challenges, struggles and addictions, to have them scattered and flee.

Each of us, on this Shabbat, can bring out our deepest and holiest inner Ark, bring it to the fore, and empower ourselves to experience the full goodness and holiness within ourselves, and confront all the toxicity and adversity facing us.

And may we return to the ultimate Ark, in the third Holy Temple, in Jerusalem, speedily in our days.

 

Shabbat Shalom and a Happy Rosh Chodesh,


Rabbi Yoseph Geisinsky

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