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Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Don't let life pass you by


Rosh Hashanah 7

The Gaon of Vilna, Rabbi Eliyahu Kramer, was one of the greatest Torah minds to walk the face of the earth.  His diligence was unsurpassed. 

His son once found him in tears.
“Papa, why are you crying?” 
Rabbi Kramer showed him a little notebook with times, dates and subjects. 
“You see this blank space?” the old man asked his son, “I was going over how I spent my time over the last twelve months and I discovered four minutes that I cannot account for.  Woe is me, they are lost forever!”

The Beraisa states: “The 16th Nissan is Rosh Hashanah for the Omer.  The 6th Sivan is Rosh Hashanah for the Shtei haLechem.” 

During the time of the Holy Temple, one was not allowed to eat of the new crop until the Omer (Barley Measure) offering was brought.  Similarly, one could not bring grains as an offering in the Temple until the Shtei haLechem (Double Loaf) was offered.  Thus, these two dates effectively became the New Year for consumption of the crops, which until those respective dates, were prohibited. 

Why does our Mishnah only list four Rosh Hashanahs?  It missed out these two dates!

Rabbi Six the son of Rabbi E.D. answers that the Mishnah only includes Rosh Hashanahs that are not dependent upon human action.    When the four major New Years roll around, it automatically becomes Rosh Hashanah simply by virtue of the date on the calendar. 

By contrast, the abovementioned two Rosh Hashanahs don’t happen unless we bring the Omer and Shtei haLechem offerings.  They’re not mentioned in the Mishnah because they’re not like regular Rosh Hashanahs.   The Mishnah wants to warn us about the nature of a regular Rosh Hashanah – they come whether you like it or not.

Ready or not, Rosh Hashanahs happen.  Even if you remain stagnant, the calendar doesn’t.  Life doesn’t stand still.  Every moment, the clock is ticking.  The Vilna Gaon understood that and that’s why he was so distressed when he realized four minutes had happened and he couldn’t remember what he had accomplished during that period of time.

Rosh Hashanah is a reminder that we are on the clock.  Every minute is precious.  Do you remember how you filled the last couple of hours, days and weeks?  You can’t afford to just sit back and relax, because while you are relaxing, the world is moving.   Every day, every hour, every minute comes independent of what you do.  But you can determine what will be accomplished in the next thirty minutes.


Life happens whether or not you choose to board the train.  For some of us, life just passes us by.  Don’t be left standing on the platform!  Run to catch the train, you have unlimited potential and a lifetime of achievement to accomplish!