10 Cheshvan 5782 / Saturday, October 16, 2021 | Torah Reading: Lech Lecha
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Haazinu: Today Only    

Haazinu: Today Only

A person who is worried about tomorrow or who is fretting about the past isn't doing the job he or she needs to do right now...


"Put in your hearts all the things that I testify for you today..."(Deuteronomy 32:46).
"Testify for you" indicates the commandments that Hashem gave Moses for the People of Israel. With that in mind, why would Moses say "today"? Does that mean that they're exempt from the commands that Moses gave them previously? Of course, not; Moses added the word "today" to convey a most important lesson that everyone must learn in their service of Hashem.
Rebbe Nachman of Breslev teaches[1] that a person must focus on the present - this particular day of his life, right now - not only in mundane matters such as career and income, but in the service of Hashem as well. Why? When a person begins to serve Hashem, it looks like a gigantic load on his shoulders that he'll never be able to endure. But, if he thinks that he has no other task that what he needs to do today, right now, then his load is not heavy at all. Furthermore, one shouldn't delay until tomorrow what he can do today, for there is nothing else in the world other than the day and the hour of right now, for tomorrow is a completely different realm.
This is the "today" that Moses is speaking about in the above passage. He is certainly not exempting people from the commandments that he gave previously, but he is teaching a critical lesson in the service of Hashem. Don't look at all the mitzvoth of the Torah at once. Don't think before Rosh Hashana about whether you'll have the funds you'll need for the expensive holiday of Passover. Look at what you must do today.
The evil inclination constantly tries to scare and discourage a person, especially when it comes to Torah learning. "You can't possibly learn the whole Shulchan Aruch - Code of Jewish Law. Nobody is capable of fulfilling all of Halacha, Jewish law. Who do you think you are? And even so, once you learn, your transgressions are considered much worse for you should have known better. It's better that you should be innocently ignorant, so any transgression you do will be considered accidental. Same with the Gemara; you can't possibly handle the load of 2,711 pages of Gemara..."
The evil inclination is a liar. With its evil logic, one could never build a house - it's too heavy! No crane can life an entire house and set it down in place. So how does one build a house? Brick by brick; by adding a little more every day, the house is soon standing. But, if a person is discouraged, and he sees the house as a tremendous project that can never be completed, he won't lay the first brick.
Don't let the evil inclination pile heavy loads of worry on your brain. Hashem has always helped and He always will help. Don't worry about whether you'll have an etrog for Succoth or matza for Passover. Think of what we have to do right now.

A young yeshiva student looked at the bookshelf with trepidation, shrugged his shoulders and asked his Rosh Yeshiva, "How can anyone possibly learn all of Gemara?"
The Rosh Yeshiva smiled and answered, "You open up the first page, tractate Berachot 2a, go to the first line, and learn the first word, me'ematai..."
"Today" is an especially important lesson for the High Holidays. There are many mitzvoth concerning Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Succoth. And, teshuva and cheshbon nefesh, self-assessment and rectification of one's wrongdoings, are tasks we must every day of our lives. A person who is worried about tomorrow or who is fretting about the past isn't doing the job he or she needs to do right now.
Yet, we must clarify: concern with the present does not exempt a person from making the necessary preparations - both material and spiritual - for every mitzvah and holiday. If a person doesn't make preparations for the Sabbath, then he'll have nothing to eat on the Sabbath[2]. Yet, the Gemara and Shulchan Aruch tell us specifically that looking forward to Shabbat is something that a Jew must do every single day. Remembering the Shabbat is in itself a mitzvah of Torah. Halacha also requires us to begin learning the laws of the coming holiday thirty days before the holiday[3]. The wise individual prepares himself for the future by including in today's learning the laws he needs to know for the coming holiday. As such, Rebbe Nachman warns not to delay until tomorrow that which can and should be done today.
So how can one possibly free himself of the challenges he'll face in the future? My cherished father, may he rest in peace, always said, "Wait to worry." He was very agile in everything he did and he never delayed anything, except worries. If there is anything we can delay in this world, it's worrying. Hashem has always helped and he always will.









[1]    Likutei Moharan I:272
[2]    Tractate Avoda Zara, 3a
[3]    Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 429:1


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