Skip to content


TorahAnytimes Newsletter Bo

Parshat Bo

Compiled and Edited by Torah Time

"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter Parashat Bo 6th of Shevat, 5776 | January 16, 2016 Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik Rav Fischel Schachter A L



"The TorahanyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Bo
6th of Shevat, 5776 | January 16, 2016

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rav Fischel Schachter
A Life-Changing Story

והגדת לבנך

And you shall tell your son… (Shemos 13:8)

Rabbi Fischel Schachter tells the following story:

As my career as a rabbi began with storytelling, I would travel from school to school and captivate the hearts and minds of children. Usually enthralling and exciting, the stories were well liked and attended by many children. However, there was one particular time when matters went awry.

I had told a particular story in about fifteen other locations, but this time for some reason the children were not interested. One of the kids in fact began to sarcastically and facetiously shout every so often, “Ha-ha-ha! That’s so funny…” Sooner than later, many of the other children as well caught on to the rude laughter of the child and in unison shouted, “Ha-ha-ha! That’s so funny…” They were clearly having a better time repeating this line than listening to my story.

However, it suddenly hit me.

As I stood there with a half an hour remaining to speak without any other teacher in the room, I began to think to myself, “My storytelling career is over.” I considered at one point facing the children and saying, “You are a bunch of mechutzafim (impolite children)!” but I figured that it would not go over too well. Then I thought about storming out of the room and making a scene. However, it suddenly hit me.

I began to think, “Listen to yourself. You are angry at the kids, angry at the principal and basically angry at everybody. There is only one person you are not frustrated with: yourself. Maybe Hashem wants something from you right now?” And so, needing to think quickly, I realized that perhaps for some reason Hashem was indirectly telling me to switch the story. And so I did. I remember having heard a story that very day from Rabbi Boruch Rabinowitz, principal of the school Torah V’Daas, about Rabbi Yaakov Meir Shechter. Taking a deep breath in and hoping for the best, I began telling the kids the following episode:

Rav Yaakov Meir is blessed with many children. Unfortunately, however, many of them are not well. In particular, his daughter is very sick both physically and emotionally, and must be detained to a wheelchair. With an unpromising future, she was depressed and dispirited.

One day, Rav Yaakov Meir decided to take his daughter up high in the mountains in Ramat Shlomo. As he pushed her along and she took in the breathtaking sight surrounding her, she turned to her father and asked, “Tatti (father), do you love me? “Of course I do,” Rav Yaakov Meir replied. “Do you love me more than anything else in the world?” she persisted. “Yes, I really do.” “Will you do anything for me?” she asked again. “Yes, I will do anything possible for you,” he answered. “If that is so,” continued his daughter, “I want you to push me off the cliff. I am in pain and depressed. There is no hope for my life. Push me off the cliff; my life is full of misery.”

Looking down at his daughter, Rav Yaakov Meir said, “I cannot do that.” “Why not?” she sternly asked. “You said you will do anything for me!” “It is true that I said I love you,” explained her father, “but my love pales in comparison to the love Hashem has for you. And if Hashem loves you that much, I cannot let my love get in the way of His. Right now He is giving you a heart which is beating and lungs which are letting you breathe. He clearly loves you dearly.”

As I finished relating this story, I left the room. The principal, noting my departure and hearing the story I had just told over, turned to me and said, “We called you for Chanukah; not for Tisha B’av.” But I wasn’t going to explain myself, and so I continued on home.

Later that night, the phone rang. It was a parent of one of the children from the school. Thinking to myself that I will most certainly be told, “How could you have said such a story? My child cannot go to sleep at night! I was also a rascal when I was a kid and I still ended up alright!” I prepared myself to hear a long-winded speech. But it was nothing of that nature. The father said, “I want to thank you very much.” I wasn’t sure if I heard him correctly, until he explained what he meant:

I also have a similar situation at home with a child who is not well. All my other children are taking it very hard, forcing them to go to therapy and express their feelings. I have one son, however, who does not talk at all. He doesn’t say a word. He is the most depressed about the situation of all the siblings. Today, however, when he came home, he said to me, “I want to tell you a story.” He proceeded to tell me the story you related today, and then asked me, “Does Hashem love our sister?” I assured him that Hashem loves her dearly, putting him at ease. It was the first time we had a healthy conversation in a long while. Rabbi, I cannot thank you enough. You have helped my son and our family immensely.”

As I listened to this father speak, I knew there was a reason my first story did not go over well. Hashem wished for me to tell this other story and change the life of a young child. The father concluded by asking me, “How did you know by looking at the kids which story to tell? You did a great job!” “Experience,” I said as I let out a smile; “it’s all experience.”

Sometimes we will be thrown a challenge in life which seems overwhelming and impossible to handle. It may be a child misbehaving or difficulties at home. But we would be wise to realize that at that very moment Hashem is speaking to us. He is telling us, “You can do this! You can overcome this situation!” And believe it or not, when we muster the strength to deal with whatever faces us, the results we produce may be more than ever expected. Instead of just telling another great story, we tell a life-changing story.

Rabbi Chanan Gordon
Spiritual Time Management

החדש הזה לכם ראש חדשים

This month shall be for you the beginning of the months (Shemos 12:2)

The concept of time is something very important in the Torah world and calendar. The first mitzvah in the Torah, mentioned in Parshas Bo, discusses the mitzvah of Sanctifying the New Moon. In fact, the correct salutation at a birthday party is to wish a person that they live until one hundred and twenty. In the event that the person is turning one hundred and twenty, the correct salutation would be, “Have a nice day.”

The concept of spiritual time management, however, is completely different than the conventional perspective of time management. Recent statistics have shown that with the advancement of medicine, the average lifespan in America is seventy-nine years. In days, this equals 28,835 days.

Of these 28,835 days, statistics have yielded the following results:

8,477 days are spent sleeping
1,635 eating
3,202 working
1,999 commuting to a place of work and home
2,676 recreation or entertainment
1,576 shopping or something equivalent
720 community activities
671 taking care of hygiene and bodily needs
576 caring for the needy and performing acts of kindness

This means that 7,303 days remain in our journey called life. If we look at our time spent in this world from this perspective, the clock is ticking in earnest and the sand is moving through the egg-timer quite quickly. What is the most judicious way to actualize our potential and make our journey in life as productive and effective as possible?

Schedule Your Priorities

Let us first dispel a concept that most people live by: prioritize your schedule. The conventional time management program includes a numerical method of arranging what to do first. In spiritual time management, however, the concept is exactly the opposite. We do not prioritize our schedule; we schedule our priorities.

Many of us are familiar with the story of a French professor who walked into a lecture hall and brought with him a jar, a number of large rocks, several pebbles and sand. He proceeded to challenge the class to take these items and fill them into the jar without anything protruding. A number of students attempted to fill the jar with these objects, but none could do so without something spilling over. The professor didn’t say a word. He simply put the large rocks in first and then the pebbles. He then poured in the sand until he filled up the jar and everything fit perfectly.

The life-lesson is quite obvious. We must schedule and focus on the large rocks, the important priorities in life. Proper life management insures that we do not look back with guilty remorse at the conversation we could have had or at the relationship we could have cultivated. The first concept we must bear in mind is that instead of prioritizing our schedule, we schedule our most important priorities in life.

Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing

Living in a world with an incredible proliferation of technology and distractions, it is crucial that we keep the main thing the main thing. Recent research at Yale University has shown that it is counter-productive to think that one can multitask and equally pursue each of the disciplines one is embracing with any level of productivity. That is not the way Hashem has made our brain. We may feel that we are accomplishing a lot, but all we are doing is creating excessive kinetic energy and remaining busy.

Living in the Moment

Most people live with either emotions that are directed at the past or emotions which are germane to the future. Consequently, they miss out on the individual moments of life. It is the moment right now which will never come again. It is crucial to remember the remark of one of the greatest Torah Sages of contemporary times, the Chazon Ish: “If one doesn’t bury the past, the past will bury him.” There is a proclivity to second-guess and revisit past moments, but it is counterproductive. Earmarking space in one’s head for the past is one of the biggest wastes of time. We have a limited number of days of life, and each one of those days is precious.

The future, as well, is full of permutations. The Talmud frowns upon worrying about tomorrow, let alone any future days (see Sotah 48b). Planning is important; but to excessively ponder something which has not yet happened is missing the moment.

Along the above lines, the following ten points are practical ways to achieve maximum productivity throughout life most effectively:

1. The Opinion of Others

If you want to move forward in life, you must be able to let go of the opinion of others. People often spend money they don’t have to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like. If one will spend his entire life worrying about somebody else, they will never be able to develop into the person they are capable of becoming.

2. Past Failures

From the Torah’s perspective, there may be missteps and bumps in the road, but there is no such thing as a failure. Every single day, the first utterance out of the mouth of every Jew is “Modeh Ani.” The last two words of Modeh Ani are “Rabah Emunasecha” –“Great is Your faithfulness.” Hashem has faith in you. If you woke up this morning and Hashem restored your soul to you, it is impossible that you are a failure.

3. Indecisiveness

People spend many days, months and years of their life vacillating and hamstrung in a stalemate of decision making. Make a decision with the best facts you have, consult the wise and move on. Do not get stuck in a holding pan.

4. Procrastination

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now. There will always be an excuse to kick the can down the road.

5. Choosing to do Nothing

Choosing to do nothing is in it of itself a decision. Every day is a new day to choose. Choosing to do nothing is a living death.

6. Needing to be Right

It is better to have peace than be right. The notion of having the last word and being right is the cause, unfortunately, of many disillusions in marriage. You don’t have to be right. Strive for peace and compromise.

7. Running Away from Problems

It is very easy to keep sweeping things under the carpet. After a while, though, you will notice that the carpet is beginning to get slightly lumpy. Face the problem and move on.

8. Excuses Instead of Decisions

Remember the acronym BEV. Slowly move away from a relationship with BEV.

What does BEV stand for?


Everyone can blame, everyone has an excuse and we can all feel sorry for ourselves. If we want to use our days of life wisely and actualize our potential, we need to first say goodbye to BEV.

9. Overlooking the Positive

One of the most important energizers in life is having a positive sense of self-esteem. Beating ourselves up and overlooking the tremendous gifts we have certainly does not bode well for us. Embrace and thank G-d for the gifts you have.

10. Appreciate the Present Moment

As mentioned above, live in the moment. In order to actualize our potential and reach greatness, we must try to live every single day as if it were our last and maximize it to the fullest.

Picture of newsletter
100% free

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter

Timely Torah insights, stories, and anecdotes from your favorite TorahAnytime speakers, delivered straight to your inbox every week.

Your email is safe with us. We don't spam.