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"Come forward, please. We have been expecting you."
The man stepped forward nervously. He had never been here before, and did not know what to expect.
"Yes, after 120 years of doing mitzvos, you have finally arrived. Now is the time to receive your reward."
The man felt comforted. He had performed many mitzvos in his life. Perhaps it would be okay after all.
"First, let us hear about your life. The angels have recorded all of your deeds. Let them come forward and tells us about you."
A huge door swung open and revealed thousands of angels ready to speak about this man.
"On the 12th of Teves, he spoke badly about his neighbor."
"On the 13th of Teves, he degraded his relative."
The man's heart began to drop. These angels heard all of the loshon hora that he had said. Every word was a separate aveyra (sin).
"Excuse me. I am so sorry, but may I interrupt for a second?"
"How many angels are here, recounting my loshon hora?"
"That is a good question. Let us figure it out. You spoke many words every day. You learned Torah; you conducted your business and personal affairs. You probably spoke no more that four or five words of loshon hora each day."
"Probably. That is not very many."
"Let's add them up. Four or five words a day, is about thirty words a week. Multiply that by fifty-two weeks of the year and you have about 1,500 words per year. By the age of 68 (which is 55 years after your bar-mitzvah) you have accumulated 80,000 words of loshon hora."
The man began to cry.
"Oh, what have I done. How I have misused my power of speech. If I had only known this while I was alive. Now it is too late."
Kinderlach . . .
The Chofetz Chaim zt"l makes this simple calculation in his book, "Shmiras HaLoshon". Our words are never forgotten. They are stored in Hashem's computer (so to speak). Even a few words a day add up. Every day, another few words of loshon hora until the numbers are very large. Now is the time to stop while we can. Learn the halachos of loshon hora and stop yourself from speaking badly about people. Turn off the calculator today.
"Good morning my dear husband, how are you?"
"Wonderful, my dear wife. How are you?"
"Fantastic. Did you have a good talk with Hashem this morning?"
"Yes dear, my tefillah was wonderful. I also had another inspiring experience while I was sitting in our new Beit HaKinesset which is still under construction."
"The workers are in the process of building a wall made of cinder blocks. After the tefillah, I watched them work for a few minutes. They were finishing off one row of blocks. The worker cemented the last block in the row. He stepped back for a moment, took a deep breath, and admired his work. The wall was straight and strong. He had accomplished something important. Then he picked up another block, filled his trowel with cement, and began to build the next row."
"That is wonderful! The building is really progressing. Everyone must be so happy. However, you said that the experience was inspiring. What is so inspiring about a worker building a wall of cinder blocks?"
"The building of the wall reminded me of Sefiras HaOmer."
"Please share your insight with me, dear."
"There is a famous question asked about the way that we count the Omer. Why do we count the Omer upward from one to forty-nine? Why don't we count downward from forty-nine to one? After all, we are eagerly anticipating the arrival of Shavuos, the day of Matan Torah. Wouldn't it make sense to count the days left until that great event?"
"Yes, it seems so."
"Rav Shimshon Pincus zt"l relates another aspect of Sefiras HaOmer which answers this question. As we all know, this period of time is a tremendous opportunity for spiritual growth. We are 'building our neshamos (souls)' up to higher and higher spiritual levels. That can be compared to the worker building the wall of cinder blocks. He builds it one row at a time. Each row rests upon the previous one. Each one reaches a higher level than the row before it. The worker experienced a feeling of satisfaction when he completed a row of the wall.
"So too it is with Sefiras HaOmer. We count upward because we are moving upward. We are working on our middos (character traits), trying to perfect ourselves. Each day is like another block, another step on the road to completion. Each week we work on a different middah. Finishing a week is like finishing a row of the wall. We can gaze with satisfaction upon our work. Look at how much I have built! What an accomplishment! Look at how beautiful it is! Then we must move on to the next week, the next middah, the next row of the wall. Until finally, after seven weeks, we have finished the structure and built . . . a complete human being. A person with superlative middos, who is now fit to receive Hashem's Torah. What a beautiful structure! What a sight to behold!"
"That is so inspiring! May I add something to your lovely words?"
"Yes, of course."
"The middah that we work on this week is tiferes, which means beauty. Not physical attractiveness, but spiritual beauty. During this week we attach ourselves to beautiful things - Hashem's mitzvos. There is nothing in Hashem's glorious world that is more beautiful than a mitzvah. A beautiful person is one who is always busy with beautiful things. He has no interest in foolishness. If it is not beautiful, he wants no part of it. It is not fitting for him. Therefore he puts his full energy into glorifying his soul with Hashem's wonderful mitzvos."
"There is one more point. When we beautify our souls with mitzvos, we allow Hashem to bring more beauty into this world. He can bestow more and more Torah and mitzvos upon our nation, making the world an even more beautiful place. It is an upward cycle. Row after row of beauty, glory, and splendor."
Kinderlach . . .
The Mishna states, "Rebbe says, 'Which is the straight path that a person should choose? Everything that brings tiferes to the one who does it, and people glorify him for it" (Pirkei Avos 2:1). Rashi comments that a person who commits an aveyra (sin) will surely regret it. However, if he is presented with the opportunity to take the straight path and do a mitzvah, he should do it. This will bring him great personal happiness. Additionally, others will glorify and praise him for the wonderful thing that he has done. Rabbeinu Yona adds that Hashem glorifies a person when he performs a mitzvah. This is the only true beauty that a person can acquire. Therefore we should all choose this path. Kinderlach, live a life of beauty. Follow the advice of our sages and take the mitzvos. Every one is a true beauty.
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