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May 23, 1986 - Image 12

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-05-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.



12

Friday, May 23, 1986

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

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11

Making The Most
Of Every Single Day

BY RABBI M. ROBERT SYME
Special to The Jewish News

The Torah says: "And you
shall count seven weeks of
years, seven times seven years,
so that the time of the seven
weeks shall be to you 49 years."
Mr. Kushner of blessed memory,
one of my teachers in the Win-
nipeg Talmud Torah, said: "The
period between Passover and
Shavuot is known as the period
of S'firah. Every Jew, according
to the Torah, is to count every
day for seven weeks. That is ob-
vious. But why does the Torah
have to tell us that seven times
seven equals 49? Don't we all
know that?"
After waiting for an answer
from the class (none were forth-
coming) he went on to explain:
"The Torah wants to teach us
the preciousness of time; that
we must not .waste the days of
our years; that every day is a
precious gift.° The Psalmist ex-
pressed that when he said, Lim-
noht ya-maynu — teach us to
number our days, to use the
days allotted to us for worthy
goals, for noble causes. This is
the higher arithmetic of life.
Every day is an opportunity
given to us by God, to help those
less fortunate. Don't waste time.
This is why the Torah says, 'Se-
ven times seven equals 49.' "
I have never forgotten those
words by my teacher, because
they are just as applicable today
as when they were first uttered.
Consider how we use, and often
abuse, time! We always speak
about "Someday." We- say:
"Someday, I will spend more
time with my spouse. Someday,
I will devote more time to my
children. Someday, I will visit
my elderly parents. Someday,
but not now. And so the days
and the weeks go by. The oppor-
tunities to help others slip
away. And one day our name
appears in the obituary column,
and we are "gone with the
wind."
Many years ago, when I was a
rabbi in a small congregation, a
young man came to see me. He
was in his middle 30s, married,
with three little children. He
was a manager of a sporting
goods store. His wife was a
schoolteacher, and with their
combined salaries, they man-
aged to live quitee' comfortably.
Then his wife became ill. She
had to give up her job.: The
debts began to accumulate. And
in order to meet his obligations,
the young man began to dip into
the till, to the amount of $4,000.
One day, the owner of the
store, suspecting that there were
some financial discrepancies, in-
formed the employees that
within a week there would be
an audit to find the missing
funds. The young man realized
that he would be found out. And
so he went to his wife's brother,
a very wealthy man, and asked
for a $4,000 loan. He was turned
down. The young man asked me
to intercede on his behalf. I was
25 years old at the time, just or-
dained, and much more certain
of my ability than I had a right
to be. I confidently assured him

I could persuade his brother-in-
law to help him.
I went to see the man. I be-
gged, I pleaded — to no avail.
That afternoon, I called the
young man, and apologetically
reported my failure. That eve-
ning, his children found him in
the basement — dead. He had
taken an overdose of pills.
The next day at the funeral,
there were a lot of people, in-
cluding his brother-in-law. He
was sitting with his sister, who
was crying uncontrollably.
Three young children were hud-
dled close to their mother; sob-

Shabbat Behar:
Leviticus 25:1-26:2.
Jeremiah 32:6-27.

bing for their daddy. When the
brother-in-law saw me walk into
the funeral chapel, he stood up,
took my arm and said: "Rabbi, I
will never forgive myself. I
should have helped him. I al-
most did. I almost, did."
Almost. The things we almost
do. The lives we almost live.
Christopher Morley once said:
"If we were given five minutes
warning before sudden death,
every telephone booth would be
occupied by people trying to call
up other people to stammer that
they loved them." Well, life
doesn't always give us adequate
warning. Sometimes death
comes quickly, quietly, unexpec-
tedly. That's why- the existen-
tialists are so correct when they
say: "You never begin to live,
until you realize that, you are
going to die." Once you realize
that you are not immortal, then
you discover that you do not
have time for pettiness, for bit-
terness.
If you love someone, tell them
now! If you appreciate someone,
tell them now! This week's
Torah portion reminds us that
life is so uncertain — when we
are offered an opportunity to be
of help, to love, to care, we
should take advantage of those
moments. Above all, let us mas-
ter the higher mathematics of
life: not merely to count our
days, but to make our days
count; to be partners with God,
in the task of creating a kinder
and nobler world.

Artukovic
Sentenced
To Death

Paris (JTA) — Andrija Ar-
tukovic, the former Interior
Minister of the Nazi puppet
state of Croatia, last week was
sentenced by a five-panel tri-
bunal in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, to
death for his war time activities,
according to reports here. Ar-
tukovic's lawyers have 15 days
to file a written appeal of the
court decision.

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