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Devar Torah - Chayei Sarah

Thursday, 12 November, 2020 - 9:29 pm

Using Our Days to the Fullest to Bring Moshiach

By Rabbi Shimon Raichik

The elections in the United States have been the world’s preoccupation over the last two weeks. People are spending their time, focus and imagination on what the outcome might be. Will any of this focus and time spent help improve the outcome? Definitely not! As tempting as it might be to  spend our time surfing through all the information and conjecture, it  has no lasting value.

The Rebbe has reminded us in many ways  and on many occasions to focus on what we can  get done in the present. We have only today in front of us;  we haven’t yet reached tomorrow and yesterday is gone.

Reb Mendel Futerfas once quoted the Rebbe Rashab’s words to the Previous Rebbe. The Rebbe said this Wednesday (the day they were speaking) was never here before and will never be here again. Our focus is on today and the purpose for what we are here for.

This week we read the parsha of Chayei Sarah. Rashi quotes the words from the first pasuk; “The years of the life of Sarah” and comments that all of them were equally good. In other words our matriarch Sarah lived a complete and full life.

Later in the parsha Abraham Avinu wanted to send his servant Eliezer to make a marriage proposal for his son Yitzchok. Right before that section begins there is a verse that says; 

“And Abraham was old, advanced in days, and Hashem had blessed Abraham with everything.” 

In Torah Ohr the Alter Rebbe asks what the words ‘advanced in days’ means. The Alter Rebbe brings the answer from the Zohar that says that these refer to Yomim Elayim, Exalted Days. What are exalted days? These refer to the garments of the Torah and the mitzvahs through which a neshama has pleasure absorbing the glory of the Shechina in the World to Come. (This is by way of example similar to  a person who cannot stare directly in the sun without wearing special glasses)

What is the lesson of these pesukim for us in our service of Hashem? These pesukim teach us to strive that everyday should be complete, meaning full of the Torah and mitzvos. The Baal Shem Tov says not to leave one day without doing a mitzvah.

We are speaking here about mitzvos that are not bound by time and that can be done at any time. This does not apply to mitzvos such as the mitzvah of Tefillin or the reciting of the Shema. These are time-bound mitzvos and must be done within their specific time frame. One cannot say if I didn't have a chance to put on tefillin today I can do it twice tomorrow. Once today is lost it cannot be made up. Here we are speaking about non time-based mitzvos that are able to be done later. 

The lesson here of living a complete and full life and being advanced in days means  that although I am allowed to set aside for tomorrow something that could be done today, none-the-less  it's best to instead take full advantage of today  and live life to its utmost with as much Torah and mitzvos as possible.

We are also speaking about an individual who's pressed for time. He could squeeze in more learning but he has stress. When he comes to tell himself that it's okay and he could push it off for tomorrow he reminds himself to be advanced in days and to make an effort today.

But why is the time frame so important? Why can't we take it a little bit easy and chill out? After all, there's plenty of time. On Shabbos we can make up for all those things that we don't get done during the week. We can do half now and half later. 

Each one of us has our daily minimum that we try to accomplish. Whether it's the basics of one chapter in the morning and one chapter in the evening, giving a little tzedakah or helping out our neighbor. For others it's about going far beyond what's required and delving into our learning on a higher level. These become our minimums. It's easy to draw a line and say that the main thing is that the basic time restricted mitzvos get accomplished because the mitzvos are the garments of the soul and our job is to make sure that the soul shouldn't be missing. Isn't it sufficient to do the non time restricted mitzvos what we can and make up  whatever is missing later? 

The Rebbe answers this question explaining that our purpose in coming into this world is to elevate ourselves and our surroundings and create a home for Hashem in this world. To elevate our bodies the vessel of our soul is by using our mouths for the words of the Torah and our minds to think the Torah and our body to do the mitzvahs. This doesn't just apply to ourselves but also to utilize the things in the world around us so that everything we do should be for the sake of Heaven.

When we speak of the world we're not just speaking about the physical world but also time. The soul can come down into this world to elevate it and make it into a home for Hashem not just in the physical sense but also that time itself needs to be connected and become a home for Hashem 

By transforming regular time into holy time by using our time to its utmost everyday we fulfill the purpose for which we came in this world.  This is the meaning of; “And Abraham was old, advanced in days, and Hashem had blessed Abraham with everything.” This is also the meaning of what the Baal Shem Tov said not to leave one day missing without doing a mitzvah.

The question still remains, how is it possible to be so focused? We live in a world of distractions. In Igeres HaKodesh 21 the Alter Rebbe says that the greatness of the Akeida was not just that Avraham Avinu did the act but how he did it with great zeal. Avraham Avinu got up right away with a feeling of great joy having been given an opportunity to do something for Hashem. He did the mitzvah with great zeal and great joy even though it went completely against his nature. This is the merit of the Akeida which is with us until this very day.

In the 26th chapter of the Tanya the Alter Rebbe discusses being victorious over our yetzer hara in our service of Hashem. The Alter Rebbe says that the principle of success that must be known is analogous to a wrestling match. In a wrestling match one cannot be victorious over one’s opponent with laziness. So too in our service of Hashem in order to be victorious over the yetzer hara one needs to get out of any laziness, sluggishness or sadness to serve with the zeal which comes from the joy of being able to serve Hashem.

May we all merit to use all our days to their fullest and serve Hashem with great zeal and joy to bring Moshiach today.

 A Good Shabbos 

(Adapted from the Rebbe’s Sichos and Mamarim)

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