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SPIRITUAL PROCRASTINATION

by Ariel Sloan    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

In this week's portion, the Torah tells us that we must not wait to sacrifice korbanot (offerings) that we accepted upon ourselves to bring to the Temple (Deuteronomy 23:22).

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In this week's portion, the Torah tells us that we must not wait to sacrifice korbanot (offerings) that we accepted upon ourselves to bring to the Temple (Deuteronomy 23:22). The question presents itself: Why should it be a sin to push off bringing the offering? G-d is not trying to raise money for a building fund or to reimburse teachers who haven't been paid in ten months. Why is a delay so critical that it should be prohibited? Furthermore, if you are trying to do an extra service of Hashem, going beyond the normal call of duty, shouldn't you be able to decide on your own when you want to bring the offering?

More than that, this new prohibition might discourage people from trying to give of themselves. If they know that once a commitment is made that they must fulfill it immediately, they may be less likely to make that commitment in the first place. Why should G-d make it harder for us to do good? Shouldn't He help us in our spiritual growth?

The Kli Yakar, a popular 17th century commentary, explains that the prohibition of not procrastinating is, in fact, beneficial to everyone, for two reasons. First of all, the evil inclination grows stronger after one makes a vow. It taunts us: "Why did you have to make extra rules, accepting upon yourself to do something that was not obligatory before? The mitzvot of the Torah aren't enough?!" The Torah is teaching us to carefully avoid putting ourselves into a position in which we might transgress. By pushing off the obligation that we accepted upon ourselves, we give the evil inclination more time to build strength and carry out its wicked agenda. In contrast, if one gives the offering right away, he won't be placed under the pressure of nagging second thoughts.

A second reason to give immediately is that everyone's money is, in truth, controlled by Hashem. G-d decides how much money each person should have. If one reneges on his oath and doesn't give what he promised, it will be taken away in some other fashion. When one gives something away, he knows he did a good thing. When something is taken away or lost, he feels bad. The Torah knows that everyone, deep down, wants to serve Hashem as best as he can. When someone doesn't do what he himself knows to be right, he feels guilty. The law of giving immediately not only helps us to avoid the guilt, but it also makes us feel good about doing the right thing.

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Ariel Sloan, a native Atlantan, is a junior at Yeshiva University in New York.

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