| Parshah |

Parshas Behar: Quality Time

Someone who’s willing to part with his precious time to share his attention and heart with another, has given away his most precious commodity, and that’s the highest level of charity


“If your brother becomes poor and his hand falters… you should support him… so that he can live with you.” (Vayikra 25:35)

he gemara (Bava Basra 9b) quotes Rabi Yitzchak: “Anyone who gives a prutah (coin) to a pauper is blessed with six blessings... and anyone who comforts him with words is blessed with 11 blessings.”
Why are words more valuable than money?
Rav Yisroel Yaakov Lubchansky explained that time is the world’s most precious commodity. Time contains potential and opportunity for anything we want and hope to accomplish. Someone who’s willing to part with his precious time to share his attention and heart with another, has given away his most precious commodity, and that’s the highest level of charity. (Rabbi Doniel Staum, Stam Torah)

Often, I’ll read an article or book about a rav or rebbetzin who recently was niftar and I’ll feel such a sense of loss. Why didn’t I capitalize on the tremendous opportunity of connecting to this gadol while they were still alive? Why do I wake up only when the option is lost? Even when they last only a few moments, these are the kind of encounters that leave impressions that can last a lifetime.

Moshe Rabbeinu spent 40 days on Har Sinai, where he was like an angel; he didn’t eat or drink. Ibn Ezra comments that, “this was a great wonder; there was none like it before.” While obviously a miracle, was it greater than the miracles of Yetzias Mitzrayim or Kri’as Yam Suf?
Rav Chaim Kreiswirth explained that while Moshe was living an ethereal existence, he couldn’t be obligated in daily mitzvos as they apply to mortals. The fact that Moshe Rabbeinu, who understood the unimaginable reward for every mitzvah better than anyone else, was willing to give up 40 days of that reward so that he could learn and teach Torah to Klal Yisrael is absolutely incredible. It’s that altruistic sacrifice that Ibn Ezra refers to as a greater wonder than anything that occurred until then.

When my oldest son turned three, we took him to Rav Scheinberg, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, and other gedolim, and the memories of those visits are so vivid in my mind. Not one of the gedolim was rushed, or made us feel like we were just a “number,” another anonymous family who wanted pictures for their photo albums. Weren’t we a nuisance? But no, each gadol took his time, bentshing each one of our children, cutting a lock of my son’s hair, and sharing a little boy’s excitement that he would soon be receiving a kippah and tzitzis.

One of the hallmarks of our Torah leaders is their profound understanding of the value of time. They optimize every minute and never have enough time for Torah study and their efforts on behalf of our people. Yet perhaps the most common feeling expressed by those who’ve had the opportunity to spend even a few minutes with such leaders is an awed appreciation of how they were made to feel special.
Rav Reuven Feinstein related that he once came to discuss a pressing matter with his illustrious father, Rav Moshe Feinstein. Before he’d had a chance to begin, a well-dressed woman entered Rav Moshe’s office and began pouring out her troubles. It quickly became apparent that the woman was deranged. She related to Rav Moshe her harrowing experiences with aliens pursuing her. After a half hour, Rav Reuven prepared to stop her for his father’s sake, but Moshe disagreed. “She has no one who’ll listen to her tell of such things,” the gadol said. And this, from a man who literally valued every moment of his life.

Back in my single years, I spent many Shabbosim with my cousins, the Goldbergs. Rav Zalmen Nechemia Goldberg ztz”l was married to Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach’s daughter, and every Motzaei Shabbos, the whole family would gather in Shaarei Chesed to visit “Saba,” with me tagging along. There I was, an American girl rubbing shoulders with the Auerbachs, yet I was never made to feel like an outsider; I was considered part of the family. Reb Shlomo Zalman would always take the time to tell me the memories he had of my Zeidy, and give me a brachah for a zivug hagun with his trademark warm smile.

Obviously, the gadol could’ve been doing more worthwhile things than chatting with little me, yet that only reflects his greatness. Time is precious and it’s those who truly understand that who share their time with another Yid, granting them the priceless memories of that moment.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 894)

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