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Friday, 7 November 2014

Are you running after life?

Daf Yomi Yevamos 34

The Chasidic master, Reb Simcha Bunim of Peshischa would tell over his conversation with a young man who he had invited to a Torah class.
“I’d love to,” the man would say, “I just don’t have the time.  I’m so busy trying to make a decent livelihood so that my child can have a better life and be able to devote more time to Torah study.”

The child then grows up and Reb Simcha Bunim would invite the next-generation young man to a Torah class.
“I’d love to,” the next-gen man would say, “I just don’t have the time.  I’m so busy trying to make a decent livelihood so that my child can have a better life and be able to devote more time to Torah study.”

Reb Simcha Bunim would conclude his story with the following, “I’m still waiting to meet that ultimate child that everyone is busy working so hard for to be able to have time to learn Torah!”

The Mishnah states: If two men married two women but following the chuppah, they inadvertently got mixed up, they are guilty of adultery.

The Gemara asks: Whose opinion does the Mishnah follow?  It cannot be Rabbi Joshua’s, for he taught that one who errs while performing a mitzvah is exempt.  Rather, we must conclude that it follows Rabbi Eliezer’s opinion.    Alternatively, we could say that it even follows Rabbi Joshua’s opinion, for when did Rabbi Joshua issue his ruling that one who errs while performing a mitzvah is exempt?  He said so regarding the circumcision of babies on the eighth day, since the timing is rushed.  But here, since the timing is not rushed, he would not forgive this person’s error. 

Everybody makes mistakes in their performance of mitzvos.  And Rabbi Joshua says that you’re not penalized for making those mistakes if you were rushed and confused.  The problem is that nowadays everything we do is rushed.

If people were busy two hundred years ago in Reb Simcha Bunim’s days, forget about today!  We are all juggling family, work, play, email, news, blogs, Facebook and on and on.  Who has time for anything anymore?  And so when our mitzvah observance isn’t quite right, can you blame anyone? 

It’s time to stop and smell the roses.  Ask yourself where you are running to.  Who is that ultimate child you’re making yourself crazy for?  Will s/he also be running and running with no end in sight?  Unless you stop to breathe, it’ll come as no surprise when your mitzvos – your spirituality – suffers.  In fact when you’re always running, everything suffers! 

What’s the point of your life?  If you’re running around working hard for your family, maybe it’s time to stop and spend quality time with the family.   If you’re running after news and blogs and tweets, maybe it’s time to stop and ask which news items are truly important and relevant to your life.  And if you’re running after spirituality, maybe it’s time to stop and let spirituality catch up to you. 


It’s impossible to get it all right unless you give it the attention it needs.  It’s time you gave yourself the attention you need and let life catch up with you instead you running to catch up with life!