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TIME WAITS FOR NO ONE

by Rabbi Ahron Golding    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

To realize the value of one year;
Ask a student who has failed his final exam
To realize the value of one month;
Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby

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To realize the value of one year;

Ask a student who has failed his final exam

To realize the value of one month;

Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby

To realize the value of one week;

Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper

To realize the value of one day;

Ask a daily wage laborer who has ten kids to feed

To realize the value of one hour;

Ask loved ones who are waiting to reunite

To realize the value of one minute;

Ask the person who has missed a train, bus, or plane

To realize the value of one second;

Ask the person who has survived an accident

To realize the value of one millisecond;

Ask the person who has won the silver medal in the Olympics

-- Time waits for no one. Treasure every moment you have.

In this week's Torah portion we learn that Jacob lost 33 years of his life because when Pharaoh asked him how old he was, he answered: "Few and bad have been the days. . .of my life. . ." (Genesis 47:9). The Midrash tells us that for every word of the conversation between Jacob and Pharaoh, (in which Jacob "complained" about his life) Jacob lost a year of his life. He was supposed to live 180 years as his father did, but he only lived 147. However, if we count the words, we find only 25. The only way to get 33 is to include Pharaoh's question! We can perhaps understand faulting Jacob for his answer, because on his exalted level it was not proper to complain. But why was he punished for the question as well?

Rabbi Chaim Shmulevitz, a great Torah scholar and leader of the past generation, answers that the only reason that Pharaoh asked him how old he was, was because Jacob looked old. Jacob was held responsible for letting his problems bother him to a point where someone could tell by his appearance that he had had a rough life. King David said, "G-d has given me troubles, but he did not give me over to death" (Psalms 118:18). Even though he suffered exceedingly, he still valued every second of life.

Rabbi Yissochar Frand of the Ner Israel Rabbinical College once quoted the Kelemer Maggid in a lecture about the value of life. The Kelemer Maggid exclaimed, "Imagine that a heavenly voice proclaimed, 'All the people in the cemeteries, arise! You have one half-hour to do with as you please'. Soon, people are seen rushing from the cemetery into the city. Some run to the synagogue to pray with great concentration. Some run to go study the Torah, others can be seen running to visit the sick, console the mourner, feed the hungry, each person doing mitzvot with his or her own unique talents. Each of them, knowing his time is limited, constantly checks the clock." The Kelemer Maggid then concluded with a strong message, "And what is so bad if G-d gives us more than a half-hour?" Treasure every moment you have.

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Rabbi Ahron Golding is a member of the Atlanta Scholars Kollel.

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