title.jpg (23972 bytes) subscribe

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues


At my daughter's sheva Berachos, my nephew, Shrage Silberberg, asked how is it that a young, inexperienced couple get married and are not presented with some kind of instruction manual or handbook guide to help them begin this all-important undertaking.

The truth is that this same question can be asked about Life itself. Every electronic device comes with a manual which warns us not to attempt to use the apparatus until reading the book. One who does otherwise jeopardizes ruining the entire gadget. And even if he does not break it, he will not know how to get the maximum pleasure out of it - just the bare basics. How can it be, then, that Hashem placed us in this extremely complicated world, with so much to gain yet so much to lose, and did not supply us with clear, definitive instructions how to benefit from the world and not destroy it?

The answer is that he definitely did. In the daily Shemoneh Esrei prayer, the Torah is referred to as Toras Chaim - a Torah of Life. Those who know how to study it properly, find the Torah to be not just a dry law book, but a true guide book to life. The Torah addresses every possible situation and advises us how to deal with it properly in order to achieve maximum benefit.

In this week's parashah, for example, the Torah discusses the laws of the Holidays and their sacrifices which we are required to bring. At the time of the Beis Hamikdash (the Holy Temple), every male adult was required to go up to Yerushalayim and celebrate the holiday there. The Torah says, "These are what you shall make for Hashem on your appointed festivals, aside from your vows and your free-will offerings for your elevation-offerings, your meal-offerings, your libations, and your peace-offerings" (Bemidbar 29:39).

Rashi explains, "'ASIDE FROM YOUR VOWS AND YOUR FREE-WILL OFFERINGS':…In the case of vow-offerings and freewill offerings which you have vowed all the year, bring them on the Festival; perhaps it will be difficult for one to go up again to Yerushalayim to bring his vow-offerings, and consequently he will transgress the command (Devarim 23:22), 'When you make a vow to Hashem, your God, you shall not be late in paying it.'"

One who pays attention to this simple mitzvah can learn an invaluable lesson in life which he can apply, advantageously, to many situations. One who has offered a sacrifice to Hashem, which he was not obligated to bring, is required to fulfill this vow before three festivals pass. The Torah advises him to bring his sacrifice when he is in Yerushalayim anyway for the holiday, rather than put it off for another time, since he may find it difficult to make a special trip later and will have transgressed his vow.

There are so many things in life which, if dealt with right away, can be taken care of in a short period of time; but later, they will steal hours of our precious time. I know this from personal experience, and I'm sure everyone has shared this frustration one time or another. When taping lectures, for example, it takes less than a minute to jot down the date, name of lecturer and topic. However, we are tempted to put it down on the desk and deal with it later, since we surely won't forget the tiny amount of information we have to record on the label. But before we know it, there is a big bunch of cassettes which we knew all about when we placed them there; perhaps even in separate piles, but now we have totally forgotten what they are about. The result is that we now have to spend many hours rewinding them and hearing the beginning of each one, trying to match the lecture to the dates on the calendar we spent time finding and trying to recall what it was all about and why.

The same applies to entering data into our checkbooks. At the time of the deposit or withdrawal, we know exactly what it is all about and are sure that we'll never forget. But when we finally sit down to enter all those transactions, we haven't the foggiest idea what they were for. A few moments would have saved us hours of time and frustration.

The problem is that we are lazy, and we do not realize that exactly because we don't want to exert ourselves too much is the very reason why we should force ourselves to do it right now rather than put it off for later. As the Diaspora Band sings so poignantly, "Usually, later never comes!"

The Torah is full of Great Tips for Life and if we will only heed them we will be extremely happy, in this world and in the World-to-Come.

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel