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Time to Make Time

By: Mrs. Sepha Kirshblum

This past Monday in America was what we refer to as “Labor Day.” As a teacher for many years there, the day was a bittersweet day of vacation and sales, but also the rude reminder that summer was over and I would be busy at work the next day. It was often also a sad reminder to me of all the summer projects and learning I had hoped to accomplish while “on a break” that I barely even began, let alone finished. I am sure we can all relate to the learning and lofty goals we have “when we have more free time.” But how often do we actually go to that list of goals during vacation? How come vacations and less stressful work times aren’t the times we accomplish incredible things?

I think Hashem was helping us get a glimpse of the issue, or maybe even the solution, in this week’s parsha, Parashat Shoftim. We are given the mitzvah of appointing a king. I am always surprised on how few rules the Torah seems to articulate for the king. It begins with the three big “no’s.” He can’t have too many wives, horses, or gold and silver. The Torah articulates the reason for each; clearly trying to keep the king focused on G-d and his people, but then comes the most interesting part to me:

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“And it shall be, when he sits upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book…And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life; that he may learn to fear the LORD his G-d, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them”

What an intriguing mitzvah; the king has to have his own separate sefer Torah, and he has to read it every day! The job of the king includes international diplomacy, national economy, internal justice issues, and many more details both large and small. There is no doubt every king was kept quite busy on a daily basis. Yet G-d has no qualms saying that he needs to read this every single day!

This brings me back to my original issue of vacation, goals, and what Hashem is teaching us about our time. As Benjamin Franklin is quoted saying “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” When we are overwhelmed with lists of what we need to get done we somehow find the time to do it all, but when we aren’t really busy and have ample free time somehow nothing really gets accomplished.

Hashem tells the future Jewish kings: I know you will be busy, but that is why I know you will be able to make the time to learn my Torah every day; hence He commands them to do it! And the same is true for us! We should see Labor Day, and the beginning of the new year as an amazing opportunity for ourselves. Now that we are back in school or at our jobs, we can accomplish the most. We can’t use our busyness as an excuse as to why we aren’t learning or accomplishing all the goals we wish to improve in ourselves, but rather it is something positive that will help us accomplish more because we have a better sense of time and what we can do with it!

May this year bring the accomplishment of all our goals and may we all be celebrating this Rosh Hashanah together here in Yerushalayim!

Shabbat Shalom




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