IF NOT NOW, WHEN?

 

In many congregations there is a minhag to read one chapter from the book of Pirkey Avot (Ethics Of The Fathers) every shabbat between Passover until Rosh Hashanah.

This book is not a book of halachot or  mitzvoth.   As you all know the Torah

comprises the entire code of Jewish  life- civil, religious, ritual law and ethical behaviour. The Pirkey Avot primarily deals with moral and practical teachings. In this article I will try to explain one or two sentences of one of the greatest Rabbis: HILLEL.

He said: “Do not say when I am free I will study, for perhaps you will not become free”

He also said a short sentence אם לא עכשיו אימתי?  (Im lo achshav ematay?) If not now when? What does it mean? What did Hillel want to teach us? It’s contrary to the saying: don’t do something today that you can do tomorrow. Hillel is trying to teach us to act soon after you have decided that you have to do something.

 

I think that his words were good two thousand years ago and are very relevant to us today.  If we follow this advice we really will live better. This is good for young and old.

 

We know our weaknesses: many times we try to delay the solution until the next time.

How many times have we thought: It shouldn’t be allowed to go on… We must stop it…

Many times we promise ourselves to find a way to start or to finish something but after a while we said: “not now… not today … not yet”

Every dieter or drinker is continually promising him or herself that tomorrow he/she will make a fresh start. Tomorrow he/she will break free from his/her addiction. Not once are we in denial, refusing to acknowledge our own weakness and inability to do what we know has to be done.  We should read the Mesilat Yesharim (The Path of the Just):

Alacrity consists of two elements: one that relates to the period prior to the commencement of a deed, and the other that relates to the period that follows the commencement of the deed.   The former means that prior to the commencement of a mitzvah a person must not delay (its performance).  Rather, when its time arrives, or when the opportunity (for its fulfilment) presents itself, or when it enters his mind, he must react speedily, without delay, to seize the mitzvah and to do it.  He must not procrastinate at this time, for no danger is graver than this.  Every new moment can bring with it some new hindrance to the fulfilment of the good deed”.

 

As we say every day: blessed is who say and act ברוך אומר ועושה

 

All the best

 

Rabbi Haim Dovrat

ADITOR COMENT: This article was sent on the 8th of April

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