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I was reminded at the recent graduation ceremony of my students, that it is the final performance which will be what is remembered. Our efforts at carefully planning and preparation have to be taken very seriously, because after a performance, some things just can’t be fixed.

At the Hebrew school where I teach, sometimes we have two separate graduation ceremonies; one Wednesday evening for the Wednesday students and another one on Sunday morning for the Sunday students. This year the administration decided to have a combined ceremony for all students on Sunday morning. I got the impression from the majority of my Wednesday students, that they were not going to be able to attend the graduation on a Sunday.


Therefore, I decided to rehearse for graduation with the children that come on Sundays. On the morning of the graduation we had extra class time to repeat our rehearsals. I gave the students the song sheets with the words in big letters and let them practice using tambourines for the last song. I asked them to sing and practice their arm movements over and over again. By the time the parents arrived, the kids knew exactly what they needed to do!

I brought the class to the social hall of the building so they could mingle with their families. Soon, to my surprise, I saw child after child from the Wednesday class coming up and greeting me. They also wanted to be part of the graduation! Though they were not present at our main rehearsal that morning, I still needed to include them in the performance as they were also my students.

I gathered all the children quickly one more time to race through the songs, and the movements. Instead of rehearsing just the children that come on Wednesdays for a proper length of time, I rehearsed them with the Sunday students for just a short amount of time before it was our turn to perform. I hoped they would all do an acceptable job. Their adorable personalities, and their knowledge of the words of the songs from our daily davening would add to their ability to do well. I did my best to give them the right amount of encouragement and love as they sweetly sang before the crowd.

The Sunday students who had been able to have an adequate amount of time to rehearse did an exceptional job. The Wednesday students who unexpectedly showed up before the program started did as well as could be expected. I felt like I had let them down. I knew that if they had been properly trained they would have done just as well as the Sunday students.

I reviewed the events over and over in my mind after the graduation ended. How I questioned my judgment and response to the unforeseen turn of events. Why hadn’t I taken the Wednesday children aside as soon as I saw them, while there was still sufficient time and go over the songs with them?

But the way I gained the most from this painful experience, and the message I wish to share here, is that we always really have to be careful. You can’t fix the performance. Every day and every moment, we are on the stage of life and we have to give our best performance. We have to think it through carefully. We have to be fully alert. We have to live with the consequences of our decisions. Our choices affect not only ourselves but our loved ones.

Yes, there is teshuva. Of course, we can and should always strive to improve our act. We live forever with our memories. We live forever with our accomplishments. We take them to the next world. Even though we know the score can even change once we are up there (through the mitzvos that our performed in our merit), what we must seriously keep in fresh in our mind is that our interactions have a lasting impact and a value for eternity.

We must be ready. We have to make sure we are prepared to do our best; to use all of our resources, so that we can have a clear conscience and be able to live at peace with ourselves. We will be living with the results not only in this world, but in the world of truth, the world to come.

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