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Thought for the Day: Tried and Tested Life Extending Techniques

I lived with my mother's parents when I first started college (chatasi! ).  One day my grandmother was loading the dishwasher and I told her that she didn't really need to wash the dishes first.  She, of course, ignored me.  A month or two after that my uncle was visiting his parents and also told my grandmother that she didn't really need to wash the dishes before loading them. She said, "Thank you!" immediately stopped washing the dishes before loading them.  I was nonplussed and (more or less politely) whined that I had told the the same thing but she had ignored me!  My grandmother very politely said, "The difference is he has the same dishwasher.  His advice is based on experience; yours on seeing an advertisement."  Or, as Chazal say, "ein sh'mia k'r'i'ah".

It is one thing to be given good advice (no matter how reliable the source) and another to have tested that advice.  Chazal wonder how Rava and Abaya had lived so long because they were descendents of Eli HaKohein and subject to a family curse to die young; they should have died before 20, but Rava had lived to 40 and Abaya to 60.  Rava, the gemara answers, was always busy with Torah, whereas Abaya was always busy with Torah and Chesed.  The Chafeitz Chaim comments that from this gemara you see that there is no loss to devoting time to chesed.

To me this is such a clear example of "ochel peiros ba'olam haze v'keren kayemes lo l'olam haba" (enjoying the fruit of one's labor in this world while the principle remains untouched in the coming world).  From 20 to 40 are usual child bearing/rearing years.  Had Rava not been so involved with Torah he would have missed the great joy of having children.  Abaya, on the other hand, got an extra 20 years which is the general time of having and enjoying grandchildren.  I can speak from personal experience the incredible joy it is to experience your children's children and seeing how your children have grown into fine adults.  If that were all you got, it would be worth spending time on Torah and Chesed, but that's only the fruit in this world.  Cool!


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