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Make every moment count!

Make every moment count!

Friday, 14 November, 2014 - 5:29 pm

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As Shabbat keeps coming in earlier and earlier it seems like theres not enought time to get everything done. But it also helped me relize the importace of every moment and the need to use out each and every one to its fullest. Which reminds me of a story that the Midrash relates:

Seeing that his students were falling asleep during his lecture, the famed Rabbi Akiva relayed the following teaching: Why did Queen Esther (the Jewish queen of Persia in the Purim story) rule over 127 countries? Because she was a granddaughter of Sarah who lived for 127 years. 

What is the meaning of the teaching and why did Rabbi Akiva choose to relay this teaching as his students were falling asleep? (note: falling asleep during the Rabbi’s sermon is not a new tradition!) 

An answer I heard from Rabbi Jacobson: Through this observation, Rabbi Akiba gently reprimanded his students for sleeping through the class. If Esther reigned over 127 countries, or provinces, in the large Persian Empire, corresponding to Sarah’s 127 years of life, it follows that for each year of Sarah’s life, Esther was granted kingship over an entire province or country. It follows then, that for each month of her life, she was given the gift of kingship over an entire city (a country contains at least 12 cities.) It follows then, that for each week of her life, she was rewarded with a town (a city has at least four towns). This would mean that for each day of her life she was rewarded with a neighborhood or section of the town. If we break it down even further, we will find that for every second of her life, she was rewarded with an entire block, over which her descendant, Queen Ester, ruled!esther_persian_empire.jpg

Rabbi Akiva thus sought to impress upon his students the value, potential and significance of every moment of life. Sarah received immense reward for each and every second of her life, because she devoted all her time and energy to living an honest, meaningful and good life. This was the subtle message that Rabbi Akiva, in his pedagogical brilliance, conveyed to his sleepy students. We cannot squander such a valuable resource as a time - not even a minute! Each moment is precious and laden with great potential. 

Money one.JPGImagine there is a bank which credits our account each morning with $86,400.00, carries over no balance from day to day, allows us to keep no cash balance, and every evening cancels whatever part of the amount we failed to use during the day. What would we do? Draw out every cent, of course! 

Well, everyone has such a bank. It's name is time. Every morning, it credits us with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this we have failed to invest to good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft. Each day it opens a new account for us. If we fail to use the day's deposits, the loss is ours. There is no going back. There is no drawing against thetomorrow. 

To realize the value of one minute, ask a person who missed the train. To realize the value of one second, ask a person who just avoided an accident. To realize the value of 1/10 of a second, ask the person who won a silver medal in the Olympics. 

They tell a story of the man who came to the therapist for a very serious problem. “How can I help you?” asks the therapist. Yes, says the patient. Please tell me what time is it? Therapist: Three o'clock. Patient: Oh, no! G-d help me.  Therapist: What's the matter? Patient: I've been asking the time all day. And everybody gives me a different answer!...

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Eli

Comments on: Make every moment count!
11/18/2014

Juna Madrone wrote...

This week I have been consciously working on mental focus. It is so easy to be distracted from the goals that I articulate for my day and to be drawn into spending time on other things that may be interesting important, and necessary — but just not priorities. The awareness of the importance of every moment is so important. It is helpful to begin each day not just with a ‘To Do’ list, but to clearly prioritize my goals. I work on each thing in its turn, always holding in my mental focus the priority item. Of course interspersed in all of this are such things as eating and davenning. These remind me of why I am here on the planet at this time and certainly reinforce my mental focus.

Developing mental focus does not necessarily come easily or naturally. Practice builds up our ability just as regular athletic training can strengthen our muscles.

Thank you for sharing such a fascinating teaching about Queen Esther and our Matriarch Sarah.