“Why don’t you come and exercise with us Thursday nights?” Mr. Sacks asked. “It’s really my most relaxing time of the week. I unwind and am able to redirect myself towards a Shabbat mode.”
“I’m not a member of the club,” Mr. Levine replied.
“Why don’t you join?” Mr. Sacks asked.
“A club is an optional part of life and I choose not to join. Thanks, but I’ll pass,” Mr. Levine said.
The Chofetz Chaim commented that people feel they can decline membership in the “club” of those who die. That’s far from the truth. Whether or not a person enjoys good health is not totally determined by the individual. True, a nutritious diet and physical exercise will increase immunity to disease, but a healthy lifestyle cannot insure wellbeing. Although human beings often prefer to deny that death is the way of all flesh, ultimate membership in this club isn’t optional. Denial is a positive force in avoiding depression, but it can work against personal welfare.
Our Sages teach that we should live every day as if it is our last (Avos 2:10). Until Yaakov Avinu asked to become ill before passing on, people would sneeze — and die instantly. Individuals did not have a chance to put their affairs in order, to write a will giving instructions how to distribute their estate, to deliver mussar to their offspring. People did not take advantage of their days to repent and return to the ways of Hashem.
Unfortunately, many today act as if there’s a “club” whose members die and they choose not to join. It’s better to face reality and use the concept of an end to life in order to live a better life.
One More Second: Another Thought for the Day
All are blind until HaKadosh Baruch Hu opens their eyes (Bereishis Rabbah 53). When we view the world through our own eyes we are subject to our material desires and the distorting effects of passion and bias. Only when we let the Torah mold our thought processes can we view the world in its true perspective. There is no truer humility than subjugating one’s most precious possession, one’s mind, to the Torah. (Harav Zev Leff, Outlooks and Insights, p. 167)
Rabbi Raymond Beyda serves in the Sephardic Community in Brooklyn, N.Y. He lectures to audiences all over the world. He has distributed over 500,000 recorded lessons free of charge. He is author of the book 1 Minute With Yourself: A Minute a Day to Self-Improvement, Sephardic Press, 2008.