Anyone else notice how quickly the summer passes us by? Wonder why I find myself singing that nostalgic song from Fiddler on the Roof, “One season following another…” And are we making the best of them? I had many projects planned for this summer. The long days would mean more daylight hours in which to accomplish. Right.
Pre-Pesach I reasoned that serious spring cleaning can be pushed off for when there’s not so much cooking and meal planning to get done. Dust, after all, is not chometz. Summers, on the other hand, are for taking it easy. Isn’t that what vacation is all about? Away or at home, the season lends itself to, um, laziness, if you will.
Even working out, like walking, is too easily pushed off. In the wintertime I tell myself I’ll make up for it when the weather is balmier. In the summertime who feels like walking in the heat… also too much sun exposure. As the German jingle aptly calls it, “Morgen, morgen, nur nicht heute, sagen alle faulen leute” – tomorrow, tomorrow, just not today, is what all lazy people say.
Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier of The Shmuz succinctly elucidates how man was created with two diverse elements: one of pure intelligence, the other with an animal instinct. The first, the Nefesh Ha’Schili, wants to do that which is proper and aspires for holiness and growth. More than anything, it desires to be close to its Creator.
The Nefesh Ha’Bahami is made up of the human drives and passions. Each nefesh has its own nature, its own inclinations. Part of human nature is the tendency for laziness, a weightiness that makes us want to just stop and remain inactive – not out of tiredness or fatigue, but because of a lazy streak that makes us just want to vegetate.
Even when one is fully motivated and driven to perform, this tendency lurks in the background and surfaces in almost undetectable ways, influencing our actions and decisions.
When we work to attack this middah directly, Hashem helps us acquire the opposite: the middah of alacrity, enabling us to change our ways and reach the potential destined to be ours.
Shlomo HaMelech advises the lazy person to observe the ant. The Midrash in Yalkut Shemoni explains how the ant spends the entire summer gathering kernels of wheat, barley and beans. How odd! Such a surplus of grain for an ant that only lives for six months, during which time it is only capable of consuming a kernel and a half of wheat!
According to the Midrash, the ant figures if G-d will give it long life, it will be prepared. The fundamental characteristic of an ant is its preparation for the future. By telling the lazy person to observe the ant, Shlomo HaMelech advises us to learn to prepare in this world for the Next World.
On my agenda for this summer was closet cleaning. Though we constantly read about minimizing, let alone to rid ourselves of clothing we haven’t worn for an entire year, I’ve never followed suit. Good thing, too. Having recently lost some weight, the clothes I’d worn 15 to 20 years ago now fit me again. And they’re back in style, to boot.
Still, everything has its limits. As does closet space. Even the long summer day has a way of slipping away. Didn’t get to that closet yet, but my Sefer Tehillim is eyeing me. Baruch Hashem I’m in the habit of reciting the Yom daily. Though I’m also good at pushing it off. After all, the day is young yet.
The clock is ticking. Even the ants aren’t sitting still. Ever observe them up close? They’re constantly on the move. I can say Tehillim as I’m walking (one end of the house to the other). The closets will wait. Connecting with my Maker is always a good thing, a safe bet and wise investment for the future. So many things to daven for.
Rabbi Tarfon would say, “Hayom Katzer V’hamlacha meruba” – The day is short, and the work is much. Just because one may not necessarily complete the work that’s begging to get done, doesn’t mean he should free himself of the task altogether.
Interestingly, Shlomo HaMelech refers to the ant as “she.” Modern science took a while to catch up but corroborates that most ants, especially those hard at work, have been observed to be female. Hmm, have to ponder over that one. Meanwhile it’s dark out and I’ve yet to get to a closet.
Would love to know how many of you out there minimized and regretted it. Seems every time I throw something out or give something away, I’m looking for that particular item, somehow finding myself with a sudden need for it.
But then, enough’s enough. I so can do with some extra closet space and, truthfully, most of my mothballed vintage ware hasn’t been worn in decades. Confession: Tried to pawn some of my stuff off on my grandkids, but the look they gave me said unmistakably, “I wouldn’t wear that if you paid me.” Time to get real. For real.
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