Israel quickly reached into his pocket and counted out five $100 bills. He folded a letter-sized sheet of paper around the cash, tucked it all into a security envelope, and printed the address of an out-of-town yeshivah on the outside. “Let’s go down to the corner,” he said. “I’ve got to mail this right away!”
“What are you doing?” his surprised associate asked. “Mailing cash without certifying the letter or requesting a signed receipt is a dangerous practice.”
“Forget that for now,” Israel said, deflecting the prudent suggestion. “This has to be mailed tonight. I can’t wait for the post office to open in the morning.”
“And why not?” his co-worker asked. “It’s worth the wait to insure your money gets to where you want it to go.”
“I’ll explain,” Israel said. “I made a promise that if this deal goes through, I would send $500 to a certain yeshivah. As soon as we closed the deal and I got the money, I was reminded of my neder. But immediately a little voice started whispering in my head: They don’t know anything about my commitment. What would it hurt if I sent $100? I immediately understood that my evil inclination was trying to prevent my good intentions from becoming reality. If I wait until morning I’m almost certain I won’t send anything. Come on, let’s find the nearest mailbox!”
The trait of alacrity has two elements. One is to initiate action to perform a good deed as soon as one has the idea. Then one must complete the deed before the evil inclination can use its wiles to stop a good intention from being realized. When you have a positive thought, immediately jump into action. Start doing — until all done.
One More Second: Another Thought for the Day
The highest level of being slow to anger is when a person’s intellect is the master of his emotions. Such a person has emotions work for him according to the dictates of the Torah. A person who has a naturally cold personality or lacks a tendency towards anger has not reached the level of the person who has a natural tendency to become angry, but has control over his temper. (Avraham ben HaRambam, Hamaspik L’Ovdei Hashem, p. 43)
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.