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Beth Gavriel

Beth Gavriel Bucharian Jewish Community Center

                                    Time Well Spent During Chag Succot

There is a story with the Baal Shem Tov that on one cold Sukkot night the Rav desperately wanted to sleep in the sukkah however the Rav didn’t have anyone to sleep with him. So he asked people individually if they were willing to sleep in the sukkah with him but they all responded that the weather was just too frigid so finally the Rav went to a certain individual and said “if you sleep in the sukkah with me, I am willing to bless you with all the blessings you would like be it children, money, and even a portion next to me in Olam Haba.”  The man responded that he wanted all three blessings he just mentioned! Soon after however the man began to weaken in health and not before long he was given just a few days to live. The man went to visit his rabbi and explained to him his weakened condition and recounted the episode with the Baal Shem Tov and asked what did should be done in regards to his life?  Should he pass away and get a guaranteed exalted portion in Olam Haba or go back to the Baal Shem Tov and ask for his request to be retracted and try to acquire an exalted portion in Olam Haba through his own toil and labor.  The rabbi responded unhesitatingly to retract explaining that once you get to Olam Haamet there is no more growing, you practically stay stagnant for the rest of eternity!, but when your living in this world you always have opportunities to grow to higher and higher levels and don’t settle! The Vilna Gaon once recounted I would give up my entire Olam Haba just to get another hour in this world to further grow in my Avodat Hashem!  

Rav Moshe Feinstein once said that the Sukkah reminds us a vital life lesson, that just like we sit in a temporary dwelling during these seven days, we must remind ourselves that this life is a temporary dwelling as well and remind ourselves to fulfill our mission in life (see first chapter of Mesillat Yesharim) of compiling the most mitzvoth, learn as much Torah and do as much Avodat Hashem as possible. The Chofetz Chaim presents this message through a parable: There was once a man on a ship going to a certain destination, as the ship progressed well into the sea, the people of the ship decided to victimize and threw the man off the ship. The man miraculously survived, he swam onto shore and found himself on a certain isolated island. When the people of the island saw the foreign man they quickly crowned him king of the island, they gave him a palace to live in, a wife to marry and soon after they were already expecting a child. A few months into his coronation he reached out to a layman of the island and asked him to please come into his chambers. When the laymen arrived, the king asked him the obvious question: What’s this business that he became king and was given all these great wonders? The commoner responded that this always a common ploy of the island: every time a foreigner finds himself in our island we crown him king, present him wonders but exactly one year later we strip him of everything he has and throw him out of our island without even clothes. The king was dumbstruck; he asked the laymen what he could possibly do to survive, the commoner responded that over the next few months of his kingship he should try to ship out incrementally as much send your wealth as he possibly can to an island and once he gets tossed off the island, he will be able to live comfortably and securely. Says the Chofetz Chaim so too with life in this world were brought into this world, showered with blessing be it food, money, shelter, wife or husband, children and etc. and eventually after 120 years were stripped of everything and we leave cloth less. We all must recognize how transient life is and important time is, to do the will of our Creator be it through doing mitzvoth (with proper concentration), learning Torah (with diligence), and through prayer. May Hashem continue showering us with blessings, may our prayers get answered, may we utilize our time and may we all fulfill the will of our Creator, Amen! Have a Chag Sameach!

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Tue, 25 November 2014 3 Kislev 5775