Wife (calling husband at work): “Hi Honey, I have a great idea. Let’s get a babysitter and go check out that new restaurant tonight. We haven’t been out together in a while.”
Husband (barely hearing her): “What did you say? Oh, go out together? Sounds like a good idea, but not tonight, working late.”
Child: “Look Mommy, I made a project in school, just for you!”
Mother (barely looking up from her computer): “What? A project? Oh, that’s nice. Put it down in the kitchen and I will check it out later.”
Do these interactions, or some variation thereof, sound familiar? Do they happen to you more than you care to admit?
Oh, don’t worry, we always have time to bond with our family when we are on vacation.
Except that we walk around on our vacation glued to our smart phones.
We are oh so busy. And oh so important.
The phenomenon of being too busy to appreciate the good things in life is not a new one. In this week’s Parsha the Torah tells us that when Moshe came to give the Jewish people the great news that G-d was about to free them, they didn’t even hear him. Not that they didn’t believe him, they simply were too busy, too overworked, to even hear what he was saying. (See Exodus 6:9)
Moshe: “Great news, G-d is gonna free you!”
The Jewish people: “What did you say Moshe? Anyway, later please. Gotta finish the brick quota now.”
The Torah tells us that this was all part of Pharaoh’s plan: Keep ’em so busy they won’t have time to think. (See Exodus 5:9)
The Kabbalists tell us that our evil inclination is following in Pharaoh’s footsteps, trying to keep us so busy that we won’t have to focus on the important things in life: our marriage, our children, and our soul. (See Ramchal, Path of the Just, chapter 2). Like the Jews in Egypt, we will remain enslaved until we learn to focus on the truly meaningful parts of our lives.
One way to start is to set aside chunks of “sacred time” when you are disconnected from your IPhone (or Android, or whatever) . Try not checking your messages every few minutes. You may be surprised to learn that your work performance may actually improve, and you may discover that you are not as indispensable as you thought. In the words attributed to Charles De Gaulle, “Graveyards are full of indispensable men.”
Paradoxically, you will discover that those whom we take most for granted are the ones to whom we are truly indispensable, and they to us.
So take the time to smell the coffee. Literally. And the time to tell your spouse how great they look, your kids how proud you are of them, and to get acquainted with your soul.
Rabbi Yitzchok Oratz is the Rabbi and Director of the Monmouth Torah Links community. Shortly after receiving his semicha (rabbinic ordination) from Bais Medrash Govoha, the famed Lakewood Yeshiva, Rabbi Oratz, along with his wife Toby and family, moved to Marlboro, NJ where they co-founded the MTL community in 2001. Aside for his “Devar on the Par” that he writes for MTL, his writings have also been published on Aish, Times of Israel, Seforim Blog, Hakira, and in various Rabbinic journals. Rabbi Oratz looks forward to continuing teaching Torah in a way that is timely and timeless, and sharing meaningful Jewish experiences with the amazing MTL community.