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Thought for the Day: HaShem Gave Me Existence, So He Gets to Set My Priorities

I have a problem... fine, fine... one of the problems I have is repeating myself.  It is not a problem with aging, rather an issue I noticed a long time ago; probably early teens.  At some point the pain of hearing "yes, you told me" outweighed the pleasure of telling the story.  Since my memory was not working, I decided on a different course of action; namely, I would internally "age" stories.  Once a story was a day or two old, I would relegate it to long term memory.  Some stories are so fundamental to who I am and how I function, though, that I always look for opportunities/excuses to repeat them. Now that I this venue, things are even better.... I can do an online search to see if I've said it before.  That's how I know that I haven't mentioned my "coloring giraffes" story before.  (But if you know me, you may have heard it before...)

I was in first grade.  Mrs. Holtz (my favorite teacher ever; I had her for both 1st and 2nd grade) had set up a wheel with all our names around the circumference on a backing board divided into six sections.  The six sections were categories of games/activities we could do once we finished our seat work.  Each day the wheel would be advanced by one name, so each student would cycle though all the categories each month or so.  I was very excited that day because I was on the math game section (once a nerd, always a nerd).  The last thing I had to do on my seat work was to color a giraffe.  Coloring was not a favorite activity (one of the reasons I wear only black and white), so I took my black crayon -- one stroke up the neck, one stroke across the snout; done!  I turned in my paper on Mrs. Holtz's desk (right next to mine, as she had us seated alphabetically) and headed for the math games (oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!).  Mrs. Holtz called me back, pointed to the giraffe and said, "Do you think this is your best work?"  When I admitted it wasn't, she told me to go back to my desk.  She walked over to the wheel and put a piece if masking tape over my name.  "You don't get to do extra things unless you do a good job on your required things."  I put my head down and cried.

The Shulchan Aruch says that one must review the parasha each week: שתיים מקרא ואחד תרגום/the Hebrew text twice, Targum Onkelos once.  The Shulchan Aruch also says that if your aramaic is not up to snuff, you can substitute Rashi.  The Mishna Brura notes that since there is not a Rashi on each verse, one must at least do the Targum on those verses.  Best, though, concludes the Mishna Brura is to do Targum and Rashi on each verse.  R' Fuerst used to give a chavura on Mishna Brura each Monday night.  When we got the halacha of שתיים מקרא ואחד תרגום, I asked, "That's extra credit, right?"  R' Fuerst replied (yes, this is a direct quote), "You have to put on t'fillin each day and do שתיים מקרא ואחד תרגום each week."  Oh.  So that is how I spend 10 to 30 minutes a day, depending on the parsha.

The Mishna Brura says in another place that those poor ba'alei batim who only have three or four hours a day to learn should not spend their time entirely on gemara.  A person must first and foremost know how to act, after all.  Therefore, concludes the Mishna Brura, most of that time must be spent on halacha.  (By the way... I'd love to meet that poor ba'al ha'bayis who only learns three for four hours a day... yikes!)  So that's how I spend the bulk of whatever time I have left over for learning during the day.  I actually watch the clock to know when to close my gemara and open my Mishna Brura.

Thank you, Mrs. Holtz.


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