10 Teves 5779 / Tuesday, December 18, 2018 | Torah Reading: Vayechi
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The Most Precious Commodity    

The Most Precious Commodity

Hashem gives us a certain length of time to grow and accomplish our mission here on earth. If we waste time, we waste an opportunity to do something really meaningful…


Time is a commodity that Hashem created specifically for us, since He is above time and space. We mortals must be cognizant of time because if we’re not, we may abuse it by procrastinating, wasting it, and using it unwisely by engaging in insignificant pursuits, instead of developing meaningful relationships with others and performing our task in life.


G-d gives us a certain amount of time to grow and accomplish our mission here on this planet. If we waste time, we waste an opportunity to do something real, something meaningful, something that can create a legacy for our families. If we only took to heart that Hashem judges us primarily on our effort to become better versions of ourselves by allowing our souls to expand in order to make Him proud of how we serve mankind and Him, then we would not waste the precious commodity of time on incidentals that do not promote this objective.


Whenever we bathe our children, clean the kitchen floor, prepare a Shabbat meal, shop for new clothes with discretion, and take a break to meditate and regroup, we are expanding our souls. We are serving Hashem as long as we sanctify in holiness the mundane and the details of our lives. When we strive to uplift the material, to elevate it through blessings, prayers, and performing mitzvoth (commandments), we unite the physical and the spiritual. As long as we grow and remember to set proper priorities and to refrain from over-emphasizing a good thing, which then makes it not a good thing, we can feel confident that we have a handle on time.


So what are proper priorities? Hashem wants us to connect to Him; follow the path of self-improvement; become confident in ourselves through our connection to Him; study Torah principles and truths so that our minds are free from erroneous secular beliefs; find our soul-mate; marry that person; raise a family according to the moral and ethical standards of the Torah; and help others do the same by spreading emuna.


We all awaken at different times, some sooner, some later, and some when their sojourn on earth is done---in the World of Truth, in the life after life, where everything becomes crystal clear. Every journey is different. The important thing is that we realize now that there is only one absolute truth, and that is G-d’s communication to us through the Torah so that we can make the best use of time in this world, the World of Action. We cannot turn back the clock, but we can learn from our mistakes and move forward.


When it comes to time, like any commodity, it is the way we “spend” it that determines its value. When we connect meaningfully with the most important people in our lives----those who G-d put together in a family---we create a bond that endures. G-d chooses our family as well as the people with whom we come in contact. It is up to us to develop the relationship and grow from it. That is what He wants for us.


Our family tree is symbolic of a physical tree with roots, branches, and fruit. We must nurture that tree for it to be strong, healthy, and able to withstand the forces around us that try to weaken it. When even one member of our family is lost, searching, or confused about life, it affects the entire family unit, just as a broken branch affects the health and strength of a physical tree. It is our responsibility to encourage the person who needs our help to heal by enlisting Hashem in the process, because ultimately it is G-d Who is our Healer. Personal prayer is the salvation.


Hashem is so merciful that when we spend time studying the Holy Books, He actually saves us time. The following is one example:  When I learned that gratitude is the highest level of emuna (faith) and that we need to thank Hashem one hundred times a day, I was beside myself trying to figure out how to logistically do that every single day. Then Hashem opened my eyes to a cryptic message, which I’d like to share with you: When we say the Modim in the Amidah prayer and spend time genuinely thanking Hashem from the heart, listing some special things for which we are truly thankful, our heartfelt words multiply to one hundred because the gematria (numerical value) for the Hebrew word modim is 100. Amazing, right?  This is a testimony to the fact that it’s not just quantity, it’s quality:  Hashem wants our heart. He wants us to connect deeply with Him multiple times every day.


May we all focus on spending quality time with our loved ones and with Hashem in sincere and honest communication, thereby strengthening our personal relationships, rather than our connection to the text messages on our cellphones. Making this adjustment will surely bring much needed light and smiles to the faces of those who are waiting for our attention.

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