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Tuesday, 23 February 2016

What are your fruit?

Daf Yomi Gittin 71


One of the most popular smartphone games of all time is called Fruit Ninja.  The aim of the game is to slice as many fruit as possible in a limited amount of time.  In one version, you get a minute and a half; in another version, you have a mere sixty seconds to get as many fruit as you can. 

But what’s the problem with fruit?  Why should we slice and destroy the fruit?  Why don’t we have candy ninja or cigarette ninja or even trans-fat ninja?

Mishnah: If a man became mute, and they asked him, ‘Shall we write a gett (bill of divorce) for your wife?’ and he nodded, we test him three times.  If he responded ‘no’ for a ‘no’ and ‘yes’ for a ‘yes’ they may write the gett and give it to her.
In the academy of Rabbi Yishmael it was taught: We ask him summer questions during winter and winter questions during summer. 
What are these? If you will say it refers to questions dealing with coats or linens, we should be concerned lest a chill gripped him or a fever gripped him.
Rather, we question him about fruit.
Rashi explains: Seasonal fruit that are not around at that time of year.

After 120 years on this Earth, after all the talking, shouting and screaming, we finally become mute and face the Heavenly court.  When that happens, they will ask a number of questions.  But the most important question of all will be about fruit.  Not whether you’d like summer or winter fruits.  The biggest question of the Heavenly tribunal will be: What are the fruits of your labour in this world? 

Just like the fellow in our Mishnah, the question of fruit will be the test that determines the soundness of your judgment.  What will they mean when they ask you about fruit?  They are assessing the consequences of your performance on Earth.  What are the long-term results of everything you did during your lifetime?  Those are the fruits.  

And it’s not just after 120.  It’s the constant question you must ask yourself:  How mentally competent am I?  How focused am I on the fruits I am producing? 

So what exactly are your fruits?  How do you assess those? 

Look around.  How spiritually inspired are your children?  What spiritual institutions are you building or helping maintain?  Whom are you spiritually impacting and influencing for the better?  Throughout our lives we plant.  These are your fruits.

And so that’s how you assess whether a certain pursuit in this world is worthwhile or not.  What will be the fruits of your efforts?  Is this endeavour worth investing in or not?  When that is your litmus test, you find yourself no longer interested in chasing ‘trivial pursuits.’   You find yourself goal-orientated.  Fruit-orientated.

Why are we slicing fruit?  The point of the game is to ‘get’ as much fruit as possible in the limited amount of time you have.  You only have eighty, ninety, a hundred years on this Earth; how much fruit will you score?  And that’s not only the question they will ask you on High; it’s the question you need to ask yourself constantly.  What are my pursuits and what fruit will they produce?

The story is told of a young man who, after learning in yeshiva for a gap-year, returns to America to go to college.  One day, his Rebbe (yeshiva teacher) calls him to see how things are going. 
‘What are you studying?’ the Rebbe inquires.
‘Tractate Berachos!’ he responds.  ‘Well, I mean, at university I’m doing accounting, but what’s my ultimate focus?  What do I live for?  The Gemara shiur that I attend each evening after school!’


Your time in the game is limited.  May you maximize the fruit you get!