Tazria -Parshas HaChodesh – Time Management

This dvar Torah is based on notes taken 18 years ago from a shmuz given by Rav Moshe Chait zt”l, Rosh Yeshiva of Chofetz Chaim Yerushalayim.

The special portion read for Parshas HaChodesh this week, begins: “The Lord spoke to
Moses and to Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be to you the head of
the months; to you it shall be the first of the months of the year” (Shemos 12:1, 2).
The first Rashi on the Torah says that this pasuk is referring to sanctifying the new
month and should have been the first thing mentioned in the Torah. The first month
should have been Nissan.
This mitzvah was told over in Egypt because it was needed, even though Egypt was a
place of spiritual uncleanliness.
The Sforno on the second pasuk says: “’This month shall be to you the beginning of
months.’ Henceforth the months (of the year) shall be yours, to do with them as you will.
During the bondage, however, your days (time) did not belong to you but (were used) to
work for others and fulfill their will, therefore ‘It shall be the first month of the year to
you’ .For in (this month) your existence as a people of (free) choice began.”
The Sforno seems to be saying that this (time) is your life’s possession, and you can do
what you want with it; but if others control you, then your time is taken by others.
Slavery, which usurps your time, is like taking a life. Your whole life depends on time.
The Jews weren’t just slaves, they were non-existent. If the free choice of using your time
is taken away from you, or you give it away, then you are non-existent.
Time, according to the Sforno, is a measurement which has a beginning; but the
beginning is when you choose to do it. The Sforno is explaining when time is yours. The
reality of when doesn’t matter; when you choose is what matters.
Some people realize the importance of time but others don’t. They use phrases like how
to “pass time,” “kill time,” or “waste time.”
As long as you are living a Torah life, then you are managing your time, whether by
learning, doing mitzvos, or kindness with a fellow person. The Torah can even cause
longevity of life.
A major problem is that people want to keep up with the times. But what value did you
have of time before that? Torah time is eternal. If you learn it, it is yours.
The point is: to what extent do we value time? This is dependent on whether we are
enslaved or not. A person that tries to keep up with the times is enslaved to time. People
that live by the Torah, its laws, and customs, control time.
A practical application of this concept in terms of learning can be seen by how much
emphasis one puts in to review; because it makes learning permanent, instead of going in
and out of learning.
Chazal say: “One is not truly free unless he is deeply involved in his Torah learning.”
People say one is free when he can choose to do nothing and waste time; however, this
person is captured by his evil inclination. He is bound by time. This person, when he
wants to start doing something, finds that it is actually harder for him.
What the Torah dictates is not a means to control you but it causes you to take control of
your life.

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