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A man stopped at a rural gas station. He stood by his car and he watched a couple of men working along the roadside. One man would dig a hole—three feet deep—and then move on. The other man came along behind and filled in the hole. While one was digging a new hole, the other was about 25 feet behind filling in the old. The men worked right past the fellow and went on down the road.

“Hold it, hold it,” he said to the men. “Can you tell me what’s going on here with this digging?” “Well, we work for the county government,” one of the men said.

“But one of you is digging a hole and the other is filling it up. You’re not accomplishing anything. Aren’t you wasting the county’s money?”

“You don’t understand, mister,” one of the men said, “Normally there’s three of us—mw, Rodney and Mike. I dig the hole, Rodney sticks in the tree and Mike here puts the dirt back.”

“Yea,” piped up Mike. “Now just because Rodney’s sick, that doesn’t mean we can’t work, does it?”

Ours is the age of distractions. Between our cell phones, emails, texts, internet, facebook, linkedin, twitter and all the other distractions, it can be very difficult to focus on anything for more than a few minutes.

What is the most effective way of living in today’s age when we are “attacked” with outside stimulation every few seconds?

The portion of Behaalotcha dedicates a significant amount of verses to describe journey of the Jewish people in the desert.

At the very center of the Israelite camp stood the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary that housed the Divine presence. Surrounding the Mishkan were the tents of the Kohanim and Levites who served in the Sanctuary. And beyond the Levite camp radiated, like the spokes of a wheel, the tent communities of the 12 tribes of Israel—three tribes to the east, three to the south, three to the west and three tribes to the north.

Above the Mishkan hovered a cloud signifying the Divine presence which dwelled within it; when the cloud lifted, that was the sign that it was time to move on. There was no pre-set period for each encampment. Sometimes the cloud—and the people—stayed put for a year, sometimes for but a single night. Whenever the cloud lifted, the people journeyed on.

We inhabit two kinds of time: real time and in-between time. In real time we pursue our lives: our careers, our relationships, our family and social interactions. Then there’s waiting-room time, airport time, between-jobs time. The trick, we are told, is to maximize the real time and keep the in-between time to a minimum.

But here is the glitch.

Past-future-truths-beliefsCome to think about it: All of our time—all of our life, to be exact—is in-between time.

When we are teen-agers in high school, we tell ourselves that when we’ll graduate High School—that’s when life begins. Then we realize that, no, first we have to get our degree. After the degree, out of college, ah then is when we will finally settle down and be content. But then, hey, we find some crumby job, and we tell ourselves, that when we cultivate the right connections, put away enough cash to begin a start-up, ah, that’s when life will begin…

But wait, we tell ourselves, life did not begin yet… first we need to get married, purchase our own home, and then we can really begin to settle down and start living…

But then our married friends smile and say, “This is nothing, this is just playing house, wait till your first child is born, then you’ll understand what life is about.” But even after the first child, we’re still working to get our company or career off the ground, and when that’s achieved we realize that the really serious plans will have to wait until the kids are grown up and on their own, and then it’s just a matter of getting through those years left till retirement so that we can get down to business.

And by the time you want to get down to business, your kids call you an old man.
And I forgot to mention that at every stage of life there is always something incomplete. We are always in therapy for something… we are always anxious about some problem… we always have either back pain or a stomach ache… We are always over weight or under paid…

When do you stop and say: This is no more a preparation for living; this is life itself?!

Rabbi Shlomo the Rashba, was considered the leader of Spanish Jewry during his time. He served as rabbi of the Main Synagogue of Barcelona for 50 years. In addition, his reputation as an outstanding rabbinic authority was world renowned, and people from all over the world sent him questions regarding Jewish life, Torah and Jewish law. More than 3,000 of his responses are known to be extant. Questions were addressed to him from Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Germany, and even from Asia Minor. His responses, which cover the entire gamut of Jewish life, are concise and widely quoted by halakhic authorities since.

In addition to this, he also was a highly sought after doctor. Jews and gentiles from all over Spain came to consult him. He was also the royal physician, which often required of him to travel to the palace and remain there for many hours.
In addition, the Rashba gave three (!) Torah lectures each day to his students, as he was the head of a yeshiva. These classes were very deep and complicated, and required much study and preparation.

And yet—he managed to take a walk every day for health and relaxation!

How did he do it?
How did he manage his time?
What was the secret?

The Rebbe explained, “There is a concept called success in time. We cannot make our days longer, nor can we add additional hours to our nights. But we can maximize our usage of time by regarding each segment of time as a world of its own. When we devote a portion of time—whether it is an hour, a day or a minute—to a certain task, we should be totally invested in what we are doing, as if there exists nothing else in the world.

You must of course be aware of the differences between important things and things of lesser importance, between means and ends, between journeys and destinations. But in whatever you are involved, you are fully there. You are never just “getting it done” or “getting it over with.” When you are on the way to something, you are fully invested in being on the way to something.”

This is how Jews live since.

rabbiWe build today with all our heart and all our soul as though it is forever—and we know happily that in a few minutes, Moshiach can come and transport us all to the Holy Land for eternity. Yet what we do now we do with a commitment of eternity, because we know that since Hashem wants us to do what we are doing now, it is eternal.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yoseph Geisinsky


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