14 Tamuz 5779 / Wednesday, July 17, 2019 | Torah Reading: Pinchas
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Penthouse in Paradise    

Penthouse in Paradise

You don’t have to stop working to buy your way into the World to Come; daily installments of 45 minutes Torah learning a day will add up to buy you a fancy penthouse in Paradise…


Who is a man who will live and not see death, who will rescue his soul from the grasp of the grave forever?Psalms (89:49)
We learn from the Ramchal, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato, that the primary purpose for our existence in this world is to prepare for the Next One. Our fleeting physical existence should be geared towards improving the fate that awaits us once the mask of this reality is removed.
If the Next World is where we spend eternity, and this world is where we work to make for ourselves a better forever, then what else is there to life than to learn, study, and perform good deeds?
Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai backs this up by challenging us to dedicate every moment of our life to learning Torah – and nothing else.
This sounds ideal. However, there is one minor detail:
We gotta eat, right?
How do we focus on a completely spiritual existence when there are so many physical demands on us every day? After Adam and Eve made the mistake of eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, G-d cursed all mankind: By the sweat of our brow we will eat bread.
We don't have much of a choice. We must to work in order to survive. The daily grind is something all of us have to face.
How do we reconcile this contradiction? It looks like the Ramchal and the Book of Genesis are at odds. We can have either total focus on our spiritual development or success in our livelihood – but we can't have both.
This is one of the biggest decisions we make every day.
What if there was another option? What if we could choose both? What if we choose to learn a little every day while pursuing a livelihood as well?
Even if our spiritual development progressed at an ant’s pace, a lot can be accomplished over time. There are lawyers, doctors, and all sorts of businessmen who start their day learning an hour to complete one page of Gemara. Over the course of seven years, they will complete the entire Shas.
If you learn 6 Mishnayot a day (an oral law without the commentary), you complete everything in less than two years. It's a daily investment of 15 minutes. Two pages of the Code of Jewish Living (Shulchan Aruch) and you've read it in a year. Fifteen lines of Torah a day and you complete the Five Books in the same time. Add in two chapters of the Books of Prophets and you have that all covered in the same solar cycle. That’s a total of 45 minutes a day.
It gets better.
Rabbi Yossi Mizrachi brings down that the Chofetz Chaim estimates we speak an average of 200 words per minute. At around 5 letters per word, we hear 1,000 letters a minute. If we choose to spend our daily commute listening to a Torah lecture on our ipod, we could be performing up to 45,000 mitzvot on a 45 minute ride.
If we were to make this a daily habit, we would need to divert 5 hours and fifteen minutes per week of our time to learning. A baseball game is 2 hours and forty five minutes. If we were to "sacrifice" just two baseball games per week, we would be able to make available this amount of time, and still see the highlight reels for both games.
In two years we would learn the Torah and Code of Jewish law twice, the entire Books of The Prophets, and every Mishnah that comprises the Oral Law.
We still get a baseball game or two per week, plus those eight hours a day to make a living. We can accept upon ourselves the chore of eating bread by the sweat of our brow, and Hashem Willing, dedicate our lives to the pursuit of a greater delight in the Next World.
When we are called to task for what we did with the 120 years of life Hashem gave us, nobody in heaven will ask any of us who won the World Series in 2008. All of the knowledge we gain in watching thousands of hours of sports have absolutely zero value towards what’s really important.
My friend asked me if living in Israel was really worth it. I told him that every moment we are here we are fulfilling the mitzvah of living in the Holy Land with our entire bodies. Every four steps we take adds another mitzvah to the world. We accumulate untold Divine merit for ourselves, our families, and all of Israel. It's not easy. There are tests. We learn that the Land of Israel is won with suffering. I have experienced that with Emunah, the suffering is manageable. Every spiritual battle we fight to a stalemate or a victory here adds more and more to the spiritual account of the world. Our impact on everything becomes greater.
Livelihood may be a bit more challenging – but that's not our main task in life. Our job is to prepare for the Next World while at the same time providing for our loved ones here. According to the effort lies the reward. Slowly but slowly everything accumulates over time. We just have to keep at it. You don’t have to stop working to buy your way into the World to Come; daily installments of 45 minutes Torah learning a day will add up to buy you a fancy penthouse in Paradise.
* * *
Dovber Halevi is the author of the financial book, How to Survive the Coming Decade of Anxiety. He writes for Breslev Israel and The Middle East Magazine. He lives with his wife and two children in Eretz Yisrael.

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