If someone would be informed that he has two days left to live, what would run through his mind within those forty eight hours?
Naturally, a person who received such news dwells upon his pastâ€¦ he thinks of all the things he hadn't yet had a chance to experienceâ€¦ The dreams he had dreamt but never fulfilled... or about making amends with those he had offended in the pastâ€¦
King Solomon, the wisest of all men says something else (Mishlei 31): "and she laughs at the last day". Meaning, the ideal position a person must strive to be in the end of his days is to have a smile on his face. When a person lives each day to the best of it and utilizes every moment, he has nothing to look back at with regret. Such a person is complete since he indicates that he fulfilled his life to his fullestâ€¦
Parshas Chayei Sarah begins with the Pasuk: "Sarah's lifetime was one hundred years, twenty years, and seven years; [These were] the years of Sarah's life." (Beraishis 23; 1) Rashi explains: the reason that the years were specified is to stress that all the years of Sarah's life were equally good. She accomplished and utilized every moment of her life. That is also why the Parsha is named Chayei Sarah- which means the "life" of Sarah, since the actions of the righteous live on even after their passing and remain for eternity.
G-d gave us the gift called time. A person has two choices: The first is to let time pass by him, and the second is to pace through time. In other words, one can have an entire day go by with nothing accomplished. Time passed by him. On the other hand, a person has the ability to make each moment of his life full of meaning and purpose. One who utilized his day through accomplishing, learning, and doing good things- is a person who paced through time. Time eternalized a part of himself which remains forever.
"There are those who acquire their world in one momentâ€¦"
One of the well-known examples is Rabbi Eliezer Ben Dordaya. (Maseches Avoda Zara 17) Rabbi Eliezer Ben Dordaya was sunk in the depths of sin. One day he felt very ashamed and decided to do Teshuva; he was so pained and full of feelings of regret that he placed his head between his knees and wept endlessly till his soul departed. The Talmud says that the moment he passed away, a Bat-kol was heard saying: "Rabbi Eliezer Ben Dordaya is destined for the life of the world to come!" The Gemara states that following this Rabbi Eliezer Ben Dordaya said: "There are those who acquire their world in one momentâ€¦"
What was the reason that Rabbi Eliezer Ben Dordaya cried when he heard the Bat-kol?
Rabbi Eliezer cried when he realized how valuable every moment of life is, and what changes a person is capable of makingâ€¦ He cried over all the wasted times of his life and saw how one can make a drastic turning point and do Teshuva in just a split secondâ€¦
"Time is precious, don't waste itâ€¦"
The Ben Ish Chai depicts this through the following parable:
Two rich men lived in a big town, both naturally being the ones knowledgeable regarding town matters. Both of them had an ongoing competition amongst each other for many years- which one was richer than the other, and which truly deserves the creditâ€¦ Some townsmen believed that so and so was richer of the two, and the rest believed that the other was wealthier. One day, one of them decided to put an end to the rumorsâ€¦ He turned to the second rich man and said: "I have an idea! We'll both go on a boat and all the townsmen will watch us from the pier. We'll each bring a sack of gold coins along and toss them one by one into the sea. The one who stops first indicates that he isn't as rich as the first since he is afraid to lose his moneyâ€¦
They both agreed and went on the boat the next day with a sack of gold coins in hand. All the townsmen stood there to watch the competition between both of the rich men. The first one tossed a gold coin to the sea, and the second followed suit. As they proceeded, the townsmen noticed that one of them was a little hesitant to toss the coins, yet still carried on.
When they reached as far as 1500 coins he surrendered leaving the second one thrilled. The "winner" then proclaimed: "Here, now I've proved to all that I am richer then him!"
The Ben Ish Chai concludes this parable with a question, and says: How is it possible for one to throw away something he has worked for his entire life? The answer is that the rich man allowed himself to discard his coins because his coins were counterfeit; therefore it was easy for him to throw his coins away. The second one was an honest person and came on the boat with real coins, and therefore stopped before the firstâ€¦
A person who knows the value of time will never let it sink into the depthsâ€¦
Rabbi Zelig Reuven Bengis (1864-1953) finished learning the Talmud Bavli hundreds of times during his life. One day, he decided to invite guests for a Seudas Mitzvah in honor of finishing the Talmud. Since the Rabbi finished the Shas on a regular basis, his Talmidim turned to him and asked what was special about this time?
The Rabbi answered: This time I am celebrating the Siyum HaShas that I've learnt when I had spare minutes while waiting on lines...
We'll learn to value each moment of our lives and not misuse any spare minute. Just like Sarah Imenu who fulfilled her life to its fullest, and whose actions were eternalized to this day!
Translated by Tzipora Niazov