Every moment of life - even the most vulnerable ones - ought to be savored. Every opportunity - even the most challenging of all - ought to be actualized. “For, in the end,” as Abraham Lincoln once said, “it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.”Rabbi Allouche
If today was your last day on earth, what would you do?
Would you spend it with family, and tell them how much you love them? Would you go check out as many boxes as possible from your bucket list?
For Moses, our great teacher, this question was very real. After all, Moses knew exactly when he was going to die. So, what did he do on his last day?
As this week’s portion reveals, Moses did not do anything extraordinary on his last day. Quite, the opposite, he continued to do exactly what he had been doing every day, for forty years, ever since he assumed the role of the Jewish nation’s leader: He taught his people the word of G-d, he begged them to follow G-d’s commandments, and he infused them with hope and courage for the future.
Moses could have retreated and prepared to die. But, instead, he assumed the role of our teacher, with the same zest and passion as always. Why? Because Moses knew that as long as we are alive, we must grow, influence, make an impact and fulfill our purpose. Indeed, every moment of life – even the most vulnerable ones – ought to be savored. Every opportunity – even the most challenging of all – ought to be actualized. “For, in the end,” as Abraham Lincoln once said, “it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
Just three years before the passing of my beloved mentor, Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz of blessed memory, I asked him if he is afraid of death. His answer was startling:
“I’ve never been afraid of death,” he revealed to me. “For I know that, ultimately, G-d is in charge of this world, and I am just a player in His Divine play. If He, the boss, decides that there is no need for my act anymore, I am ready to accept that.”
And he continued: “But I’ll tell you what I’m afraid of. I am afraid of life. I am afraid of letting the precious moments of life go by. I question myself, all the time, whether I am fulfilling my purpose to the best of my ability. And perhaps this is why I am not afraid of death. There’s an old Chassidic saying that says that ‘one who is concerned with life – and living it to its fullest potential – will not be concerned with death. For, when it will come, he will have lived a life filled with meaning and purpose.”
As we together approach Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year of 5782, coming up this Monday evening until Wednesday evening (all welcome to CBT for our services!) – may we commit to living our lives as Moses did, and heed Hashem’s call to serve, to love, and to give, in every moment, at every place, with every person.
And let us set goals each and every day, especially in our Jewish journeys. Which Jewish topics will we study? Which mitzvahs will we achieve? Which Jewish values will we introduce to our families? Which act of goodness and kindness will we perform today, and tomorrow?