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Life is so short, who has time for daily living?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein

  

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Question:

At times, I am painfully aware of my limited years on this planet, of the fact that I won't always be young, that the body and mind deteriorate with age, that beauty is short-lived, and that one day I will go to another world. At moments like this, I just want to drop the mundane tasks, break free of day-to-day meaninglessness, and live as though it was my last day on Earth. But reason prevails, and here I am behind my desk doing my office job, then on the way home where children, dinner, laundry, vacuum, etc. are awaiting to be taken care of by me. Isn't it a waste of life? There is so much to see in this world, so many dreams to be pursued! Am I right in thinking that most of our lifespan is a waste of time? And how do I make every day count?

Thanks for your insights! Sharon M.

Answer:

Our Sages1 sum up the call of life as follows: "The day is short, the work is much, the workers are lazy, the reward is great, and the Master is pressing."

I.e. life is indeed short, and there are many different things we can occupy ourselves with; we tend to be drawn to the self gratifying and effortless things, yet there is huge potential in succeeding in the proper work, the work that G-d is encouraging us to do.

The Sages of the Mishnah then go on to say: "It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task, but neither are you free to absolve yourself from it."2

I.e. In life there are no guarantees, you can't know when your end will come, and when your mission will be finished. But that is not your concern. Your objective is to do. To do as much as you can. G-d is in charge of the results and finish lines.

So yes, live every day as if it is the last day of your life, make it valuable, and memorable. 

Your true values and memories are in raising your children and in your work. You don't need new activities, you need a new perspective.

Footnotes

  • 1. Mishnah, Ethics of Our Fathers, Ch. 2:15
  • 2. ibid 2:16

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Daily Life » Business Issues
G-d » Me and Him
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Mishnah
First written rendition of the Oral Law which G-d spoke to Moses. Rabbi Judah the Prince compiled the Mishna in the 2nd century lest the Oral law be forgotten due to the hardships of the Jewish exiles.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.