Minute #489: A Little, a Lot

“That piece is much too big to swallow,” mom warned her son. “Please take the time to cut it into smaller pieces.”

“If you can’t read the whole book in one sitting, break it down into smaller sections. By the time you return from vacation, you will have completed the whole thing,” the teacher advised her students.

Some things are just too large for human consumption. Our Sages felt that a huge tractate called “Nezikin — Damages” — was much too large to learn and so they broke it up into smaller “gates” called the first, the middle and the last gate —i.e., Baba Kamma, Baba Metzia and Baba Batra.

On the other hand, when something is too small, people tend to ignore it. There were 12 prophets whose prophecies were relatively short. Our Sages, in their wisdom, consolidated them into a work called “Trei Asar Twelve [Prophets]” — so that proper attention would be given to their holy words in future generations.

Small things tend to get lost and small periods of time tend to be wasted.

A person who arrives five minutes early for minyan might sit idly, checking his watch every minute or so, rather than utilize the time to learn a Mishnah or two. Someone waiting for a train will read something frivolous like the billboards at the station.

This unfortunate situation results because people don’t realize the value of small pockets of time. Harav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, finished the entire seder of Mishnayot hundreds of times by utilizing the time he was waiting for Minchah to begin in the yeshivah. Not everyone can achieve major accomplishments like that, but you will definitely benefit greatly if you use “little” time slots productively. A little can add up to a lot!

One More Second: Another Thought for the Day

Anger and flamboyant attempts to solve difficulties are useless. When Hakadosh Baruch Hu has decreed that something must happen to us to atone for our sins, the outcome is inevitable, no matter what we do and no matter how we may try to avert it. (Sara Yosef, It’s All in Your Mind, p. 160)