emunah, tefillah, a little mussar, and a shmeck of geula

Monday, October 3, 2011


As the saying goes, or rather used to go, there’s nothing certain in this world except death and taxes.

And just because some of us have managed to somewhat dance around the latter there shouldn’t be any illusions as regards the former.  Be it in a hundred and twenty or next week, it’s going to be, period, so what better time to reflect upon this most uncomfortable of life’s imponderables than between Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur.

While we all know the Chazal that says that the walls of a person’s house will testify for/against an individual after his temporary visa is revoked in this world, maybe we think we’ll get some rebuttal time so it doesn’t shake us up the way it should.  And what about the fact that every minute of one’s life is recorded and that you will have to suffer through the unedited replay of your entire existence here?  Even a low life can take solace in the fact that his suffering will be tempered as all of his simchas and other “good” moments of his life paraded in front of him.

So as we approach the day when the stenciled judgment we received on Rosh HaShana will be carved in stone, what exactly will put the fear of G-d in us?  What will give us pause to consider the consequences of our future actions if we are fortunate enough to have a future when the curtain comes down on this year’s Din at the close of Yom Kippur?

It’s well known that sometimes less is actually more, and we see this clearly in many forms of communication.

Have you ever noticed that in order to get someone’s attention, sometimes it is more effective to lower your voice rather than to raise it?  And even in cases where you already have someone’s attention, a stronger point can often be made by suddenly dropping your voice a few decibels.

And what’s true for sound based communication is no less true for the visual arts. 

Every photographer and filmmaker works in color today, and yet when a certain point has to made, or a unique attribute of a product needs to be emphasized, or a special mood needs to be created, it’s plain old black and white that’s called upon to highlight the desired effect in juxtaposition to a color saturated world.

And along the same lines, the old wisdom that a picture is worth a thousand words has held up nicely in a motion addicted world, with a photo being a classic example of less actually being more, and herein lies something that can go a long way in putting our ultimate imponderable in its proper perspective.

None of us needs to hear a recital of the names of those who were taken from us this summer under the strangest of circumstances without the slightest warning because their names are already seared in our collective memory.  Throw into this tragic mix all of the fatal automobile crashes, strokes, heart attacks, and other sundry fatalities and we have evidence aplenty that no man knows his time.

Fuhgeddabout the talking walls and the one hundred and twenty year long unedited video of your life.  Your whole life will be reduced to one split second, the split second just before you check out of this world.

The last move you ever make will be frozen forever in a Heavenly snapshot.  And as was said above, no man knows his time, which effectively means that whatever you’re doing now may be the last thing you’ll ever do.

You’ll only get one picture, and for any given word of loshon hora, or for any nasty word to your spouse, or for any lack of tznius etc. the last sound you hear could be CLICK.