A sense of calm enveloped Mr. Kagan as he drove through the small lakeside village where he and his siblings had spent their summer vacations as children. The beauty of the pristine lake, magnificent mountains and cloud-studded sky was awe inspiring. Visions of the happy days of his youth sped through his mind and made him smile.
“How wonderful it is that the lake has not changed,” he mused. “It’s exactly as I remember it. I’ll bet that when they grow up, my great-grandchildren will be able to come here and see it looking just as it did when I was young.”
Mr. Kagan’s serene mood is easy to understand. Once upon a time, life was much simpler than it is today. Admittedly, we are beneficiaries of many time-saving conveniences and comfort-providing innovations, yet in spite of the technological advances that promised peace and quiet, life has become exceedingly hectic. Its swift passage and continuous changes can easily unsettle one’s equanimity.
The unspoiled natural beauty of Earth’s landscape is a welcome counterpoint to man’s innovations.
Our Sages teach that man is above the angels in the hierarchy of Hashem’s creations. The angels are stationary and man is in motion. One must see life as
an opportunity for positive improvements on a daily basis. Man was not meant to remain as he was born; stagnating is tantamount to dropping. Just as one’s body grows and develops and one’s mental prowess improves with maturity, so is one expected to constantly raise the spiritual bar by which one lives. Expansion of one’s understanding of Torah and its observance is meant to increase one’s fear of Heaven.
To eat more, rest more and enjoy more are goals that ignore the purpose of life. Shelomoh Hamelech said it best: “The final word after everything is heard is this: Fear G-d and keep his commandments, for this is all of man” (Kohelet 12:13)
It’s comforting that a lake remains unspoiled, but for man it’s essential that he change for the better daily. What will you be in 10 years?
One More Second: Another Thought for the Day
Great is the punishment of the liar. Even when he tells the truth he’s not believed. (Sanhedrin 89b)