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There is a curious parable in the Talmud (Chulin 58b): “For seven years the gnat and his wife fought, because he once sucked the blood of a fat man without inviting her.” On this parable Rav Papa asked, “A gnat lives for only one day, how could they have fought for so long?” Abaye answered, “Seven of their years.” That is, divide the period of their life by 70, and count each segment as one year.

The Sages are obviously trying to teach us something with this parable. The gnat lived for only one day, but instead of using his short life properly, he spent it in anger and resentment.


The funny thing is that just as we look at gnats in this world, so too are our lives regarded in the supernal worlds. What is 80 or 90 years of a person’s life compared with the eternal life of the World to Come?

Rebbe Nachman warns us about this. “The entire world is filled with strife. … In every city and in every house, between neighbors, within families, among one’s workers or children. No one thinks about the purpose of life. No one realizes each day a person dies a little more. The day that has passed will never come again: each one brings a person closer to death. But when Moshiach comes (may it be soon), all the strife will end, and great peace will encompass the world.” (Sichos HaRan 77)

How can we waste our lives squabbling, sucking the blood out of each other, rather than devoting our time to Torah, prayer and good deeds? Fortunate is the person who can overcome his bad character traits and fulfill their purpose in this brief life.

May Hashem help us to see the good in each other and pursue peace.


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Rabbi Nosson Rossman is a rabbinic field representative for the Orthodox Union. He can be reached at [email protected].