DAY 811: Appreciating What and Why We’re Doing While We’re Doing

September 19, 2014
By bethmordecai
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DAY 811: Appreciating What and Why We’re Doing While We’re Doing


אע”פ שתקיעת שופר בראש השנה גזירת הכתוב, רמז יש בו, כלומר עורו ישינים משנתכם ונרדמים  הקיצו מתרדמתכם (רמב”ם משנה תורה הלכות תשובה ג:ד)ש

Even though the blowing of the shofar on Rosh HaShanah is a Biblical decree, it hints at something, i.e., “Wake up, sleepers, from your sleep! And slumberers, arise from your slumber!” (Maimonides Laws of Repentance 3:4)


Dear Hevreh,

One of the things I’m often working on is how to be more judicious and efficient in using my time effectively. Schedules, planning, and even execution of the tasks at hand only seem to go so far, because as I sat in prayer yesterday I realized that one of the things I often miss when it comes to trying to be efficient is a sense of appreciation. Spending so much time on day-to-day tasks, often becoming immersed in them, runs contrary to taking notice of them, appreciating each opportunity to do something positive with my time. This isn’t about taking time to “smell the roses” (in fact, there is a Jewish teaching that one should not stop to smell the roses (Mishnah Avot 3:7)) rather it’s about being aware of what we’re doing while we’re doing it. When we are so engrossed in our activities that we lose sight what we’re doing or why we’re doing it, then why bother doing them in the first place? Or is the purpose of keeping ourselves busy simply for the sake of…keeping ourselves busy!

Perhaps appreciating our actions as we’re dong them is why we have b’rakhot (blessings) before eating (or pretty much any activity we can think of) — not only are they short, but they give us an intention for our actions more than simply trying to be efficient, to get one thing done so that we can move on to the next thing. Perhaps this is what the Rambam was trying to teach us in his comment on the shofar as seen above. He is not saying that we are asleep and not doing anything, on the contrary we are very much awake (sometimes too much) in trying to get things done. Instead, he is saying be awake to what you are doing and why you are doing it, and if you realize you need to make a change…then you will.

So as we efficiently take care of our business, both personal and professional, let us remember that more important than efficiency is awareness of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it so that we can take pleasure in getting something done instead of worrying what needs to be done next.

Shabbat Shalom and see you this Saturday morning for the Silberberg-Taranto baby naming!

Rabbi Ari Saks

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Rosh Hashanah
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