If Tomorrow Never Comes
I found it an interesting coincidence that a federal census bureau worker came knocking on my door the same week the Torah portion dealt with the counting of the Jews. It’s certainly life affirming to be tallied among the living. Yet, at the end of the day, it’s a humbling thought that our existence, as per the census at least, is a mere statistic. You have been counted, but do you count?
A heavy cloud is gathering above the world we know and many even question, “Is it the end of days?” Some believe that Messianic times are upon us and fear current events presage Gog and Magog, a bloody apocalypse. So, if tomorrow never comes, will you be ready? What have you counted for in this lifetime? Have you been a mere number or have you counted for one but lived as if you alone were an entire army, an indomitable force that gave life to your convictions, gave love to the world, gave hope to the downtrodden, gave kindness a home, and served the will of God?
This Yom Kippur God taught me a good lesson. About one hour before the holiday started, I became violently ill and for the first time in my adult life was not able to fast on Judaism’s most holy day. As most people do, I took my tomorrows for granted. I can repent tomorrow, next week, on Yom Kippur, etc. But my friends, we have only today and not even today but just this singular moment. Will you make it count? These aggregate moments of doing the right thing and fighting for truth really define who we are.
In the past I have often urged people to become politically active and let their voices be counted. Today I’m talking about making ourselves count in this world by making a spiritual difference in our own lives and the lives of others. In this week’s Bible reading we learn how Aaron, the priest, had the most valued duty in the temple: preparing the wicks and lighting the Menorah. That seems of small significance considering that sacrifices were offered in those days. But it was a decisive metaphor. Creating light in our midst and spiritually illuminating the world we live in, excuse the pun, outshines all else. Giving spiritually is very unlike giving materially. Materialism is finite and when you give to someone of what you own, your resources become diminished, however slight. But when one flame lights up another, the first flame is not decreased but rather creates even more light.
I can’t help but think how the son of Israel’s prime minister has recently won a national Bible contest in Israel and how that may influence Netanyahu’s thinking even though he himself is not religious. Last week was the first time I recall hearing the prime minister speak about how many times Israel is referred to in the Bible. I have often heard him refer to history but not the Torah. Perhaps his son has become a light unto him.
There’s a funny thing that happens when you start doing the right thing. People start getting a bit jealous and feeling guilty. If you are truly genuine and passionate, you become like a torch that passes through the darkness and “ignites” everyone along the way, often without preaching a single word.
Each one of us has a spark within that can be fanned into flames. Choose not only to be counted, but to shine and to count in this world. Pick one good deed and go for it. And put no faith in tomorrow, for it never really comes. Start today!
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