Friday, January 27, 2012

Why do today, what you can put off til tomorrow? Parshas Bo

There are many inspiring and educational lessons that we learn from yetziat Mitzraim, the Jewish exile from Egypt. Rabbi Akiva Tatz brings an important one to our attention which I'll elaborate on.  
You know those people that are always going to be at their appointments exactly on time?
You invite them for dinner at 7:00, and the clock strikes seven simultaneously with the doorbell. They show up at  weddings before the chosson and  kallah. The biggest tragedy in their lives occurs when the battery of their watch breaks. You know the type?
The concept of TIME is a significant one. Time can be used positively, as well as negatively.
Using time negatively, means being lazy. That's a debilitating disease. It prevents a person from reaching a goal. Be it a household chore, a project at work, a spiritual activity, or just about anything that requires some movement.
Using time positively, helps you reach a goal, or achieve spiritual heights.
Why am I bringing this in over here? What does this hafta do with the Jews' freedom?
The exact second they left Mitzraim (Egypt) was extremely significant. Had the Jews stayed even one second longer, they wouldn't have been worthy of leaving. They would've lost the zchus.
At this time, they were on the forty ninth level of tumaah, impurity- out of fifty. Using some quick arithmetic... that's a pretty low level. If they had waited even one more second before walking out the gates of Egypt, they would've hit rock bottom. They would've reached the fiftieth level of impurity.
Whoa! Wait right there. What was sooo dangerous about remaining another minute in Mitzraim?  First of all, don't tell me they would've been influenced negatively by the Egyptians- they were living side by side for over 200 years... what new trends would they teach them a second before they leave?
And also, wasn't this the moment of redemption? A moment of purity? Of revelation? It was such a holy moment. How would they possibly have fallen down into a level of impurity in just one second of the holiest moment ever?
See, the danger was TIME itself.  Being lazy. Not acting immediately. 
THAT'S  the impurity. Laziness. Procrastination. 
If the Jewish people, when given their exit visas would've wanted to finish a game of chess they were in middle of before leaving, or if they would've run back home to take the cake out of the oven, or to change into their favorite outfit.... that would've been the danger. That is the impurity.
When we're given an opportunity to do something, the moment to do it is RIGHT THEN. If we wait even one moment, we can miss it.
A few years ago, I thought of the most perfect shiduch. I actually didn't even know either one of them too well, but whatever I did know seemed perfect. So, what does the president of the Procrastinators Club do? She doesn't pick up the phone and suggest it. I had every excuse in the world to wait a little while. They were both in camp, I didn't know how to reach them.  Maybe they'd prefer to wait til after the summer. Maybe this, maybe that. To make a short story shorter, a day after camp was over, I heard the wonderful news that they had gotten engaged..... to each other! Someone else had gotten my mitzvah. (And my shadchanus money ;) winking).  Because the moment I thought of it, was the moment to act.
You know, I was always bothered by the famous story of Rabbi Akiva, where he traveled away from home for 12 years learning Torah, and upon returning home, before even entering his warm, happy home, he overheard his loving wife, Rachel, speaking to a neighbor inside. "I'm so proud of my husband's accomplishments in Torah, I wouldn't mind if he goes back for another 12 years!". At the echo of those words, he made an about face, got into his carriage, and traveled away for an additional 12 years.  
 Couldn't he just go in and say "Hello, wife!"?  Not even  "what's for dinner?" but just H-E-L-L-O. And then he can turn around and go to resume his studies.
 Now I understand why he couldn't. Because that was the moment he had to go back. It was then or never. If he would've gone in, even for a second, he may have changed his mind. 
That's why the possuk says B'CHIPAZON- THEY LEFT IN A RUSH. They had to rush out of there, because stalling and procrastinating would have brought them down to a lower level. 
And this might also be why right now is when they were commanded to eat matzah on Pesach. The two significant aspects that make matzah what it is, are: a time factor, and constant work.  Consistently kneading the dough, for exactly 18 minutes, entitles the matzah kosher. Stopping to knead it, symbolizing laziness, or allowing it to sit even one minute more than 18... and it's become chametz.
 Time is so important, that  even100th of a second is worth 10 million dollars. Now, wait a second. I'm not one of those exaggerating idealists trying to prove my point. I'm being very serious.
Ever see what goes on in the Olympics? Last years winner crossed the finish line at 3:27:53 seconds. So, when this years contestant is trying to beat him, he's coming in at 3 seconds... everyone's turning blue from holding their breath...and he wins by 3:27:52 seconds. The crowd bursts into cheer. We have a new winner, who won by 100th of a second. 
The next day, first thing in the morning, the new winner gets a phone call. It's Nike. They want him to model off their new shoes. That's 2 million dollars. Next, Coca Cola calls him. They want his to be drinking their stuff on TV. That's another 2 million dollars. And the phone doesn't stop ringing. 100th of a second was worth 10 million dollars.
Whoa.. I think Ill get off the computer now and go cook for shabbos.
"If you lose one hour in the morning, you'll spend the rest of the day looking for it".