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The Systems of the Jewish Year

Pro-Active Judaism

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

In order to succeed in our business or profession we must never allow ourselves to live by reacting.
If we are reacting we are not in control.
If we are reacting we are living for other peoples agendas.
If we are reacting we are stressed out and we go to sleep every night frustrated over what we didn’t accomplish.

The pro-active person will accomplish more, feel better, be more successful and have more time for personal pleasure and family. This is the golden rule of time management. The rest is commentary.

When it comes to our Judaism are we reactive or pro-active?

Chazal compare Abraham to Job. When Job encountered his unbearable pain in life he cried out to G-d in bewilderment. “Didn’t I feed the hungry and clothe the poor? Wasn’t my house open on all four sides?” G-d responded, “You Iyuv have not reached half the Chesed of Abraham. Where you would sit in your tent and receive guests Abraham would go out and look for them. (Avos D’reb Nosson 7; 1)

Many people have special rooms in their homes where they receive guests. They practice kabolos orchim. They respond or react to the poor person at the door. This is noble. Avrohom practiced hachnosos orchim. He went out looking for people that needed his help. The difference may seem subtle but it is in fact the difference between seriously succeeding in Judaism and reacting to something that comes your way. Very few of us sit at home and wait for our livelihood to knock on the door, we go out and get it. Avrohom was a go-getter.

Chazal teach us that when we meet another human being we should be makdim shalom. Not only should we answer people who greet us but we should be the first to extend a greeting.

Yaffa Elyach tells the story about how the Bluzhaver Rebbe was standing in line in the selection row of a concentration camp. His physical condition did not meet the Nazi standard for deserving life. As he approached the Nazi, the Bluzhaver stared at the Angel of Death and blurted out “Gut Morgan Heir Mueller!” The guard looked at the Rabbi and recognized him as the rabbi he used to pass daily that always said “Gut Morgan Heir Mueller.” With his eyes to the ground the officer sent the Rebbe to the line of life. Chazal in their wisdom said Greet everyone first. Don’t wait!

In our hurrying we miss such important opportunities in Shalom Bayis. A thank you to our spouse before an argument is worth hundreds of gifts that come too late. A word of encouragement to our children before a crisis is worth hours of counseling during trauma.

I’d like to suggest that as part of our spiritual portfolio we all have a project that is our pro-active project. Volunteer for Tomchei Shabbos, mentor a troubled teen, join Partners in Torah or if you’re capable, write a book. There are hundreds of wonderful books that have never been written because people are too busy reacting to crises that come up minute by minute. If it is not a project, a decision, a passion it will never get done.

I respond all day. That is my job. This past Yom Kippur I promised myself that I would try to initiate just one conversation a week. I would allocate five minutes to call someone who needs a bit of encouragement. Everyone can plan five minutes a week.

Avrohom Avinu is our glorious past. If we follow in his footsteps we can realize a glorious future. 

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