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Time to grow… UP!

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And the earth had become corrupt before Hashem . . . (6:11)
Dayan Abramsky deduced from these words that the earth had become corrupt “before Hashem” but it did not seem corrupt to anyone else, for they had become used to the slow decline in holiness and had forgotten how the world was before and how it was meant to be. Thus, only Hashem saw that the world was corrupt, but those living at the time did not sense the extensive deterioration of their surroundings.[1]

Our inability to view ourselves and our surroundings objectionably often leads us to settle blindly into a detrimental situation. One example of this came from a Rav who recently confided that he had just realized that since his bar mitzvah he had been laying his tefillin incorrectly — for over forty years! He explained that his father had taught him that although the custom was to wrap seven times around the arm,[2] since this boy had particularly thin arms and the tefillin straps were thin as well, he could be lenient to wrap the straps around his arm eight times instead. And now, forty years later, the Rav realized that he had never “adjusted” his practice.

There are many examples in our lives where we have not adjusted our practice — be it in our mitzvah observance, our behavior, or our Torah knowledge. And in many cases, we are even maintaining the exact same level from the time of our childhood!

Rav Nachman of Breslov was known to say, “If you are not a better person tomorrow than you are today, then what need do you have for a tomorrow?” Every day is a gift from Above, and it should be appreciated as such. The best way to appreciate a gift is to use it well. If we use our days well and seek to improve our practices, then we will, b’ezras Hashem, merit to have many more days to come.

[1] Related by Rav Moshe Sternbuch.
[2] See Mishnah Berurah,  Orach Chaim 27:31.

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